ZocdocAnswersIs it normal to have heart palpitations following surgery?

Question

Is it normal to have heart palpitations following surgery?

My gynecologist did exploratory surgery on me yesterday. Since I left the same-day surgery center I am feeling like I am unable to catch my breath. My heart also feels like it is going to jump out of my chest. My cousin says that I should go back to the doctor and that I might be having a reaction to the anesthesia. I am not scheduled to return to the doctor for a followup appointment until next week and I would rather not go earlier if I can avoid it.

Answer

In your situation, it is very important to call your surgeon's office as soon as possible, report the symptoms you are having, and follow any advice you are given. Heart palpitations are common and usually not indicative of a serious health problem, but after surgery is a different situation. Usually, heart palpitations are only rarely caused by medical problems and are more likely due to lifestyle factors like caffeine consumption, anxiety, or stress. But after surgery, there are a variety of complications that can occur, so it is a setting where symptoms should never be ignored. It may be the case that medications you received during your surgery or that you are on now that could be causing heart palpitations. Also, the body's response to injury or surgery involves increased excitation of the nervous system, which can cause heart palpitations. But in some cases, palpitations can be associated with fever, heart, or lung problems. If you are experiencing palpitations, especially if you are also experiencing shortness of breath, this could be a sign of certain surgical complications such as infection or a blood clot, so it is very important that you contact your surgeon as soon as possible to report the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor may ask you to make an appointment for a complete evaluation, or may even recommend that you go to an emergency room to be evaluated. Your symptoms may just be related to medication or your body's healing response, but it is much better to talk to your surgeon and be safe rather than risk having a serious problem go undetected.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.