Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why was my heart beating so fast?"
I was in class in college when I felt my heart start to beat too fast. Then I felt light headed and I almost passed out. What happened? I'm going to the doctor to have myself checked out but what should I ask about? What could this be?
This sounds like an issue you should get checked out right away. There are several possible causes that could be responsible for this episode. First, you could have developed a heart arrhythmia. Arrhythmias are heart conditions in which the heart rate becomes abnormal. Arrhythmias seen in young people are usually fast arrhythmias known as supra-ventricular tachycardias. This type of problem causes your heart rate to increase suddenly to a very fast rate which can reduce blood flow from the heart to the brain which can cause lightheadedness. Because these types of arrhythmias are common, it should not be overlooked. Another possibility is that you experienced a panic attack. Panic attacks can seem very much like an arrhythmia because both cause the heart to beat really fast. They also result in lightheadedness from the hyperventilation that usually occurs with them. The good news is that both of these conditions (along with other less likely possibilities) are very treatable. To decipher between them, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. From there, you doctor should be able to tell what happened and come up with a plan to fix it.
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