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"What do heart spasms feel like? "

ZocdocAnswersWhat do heart spasms feel like?

Question

I'm a young male with no history of heart problems, though there is a family history of heart disease. For the last year or so I notice a spasming - convulsing feeling in my chest that hits every few days. It never lasts longer than 15 seconds, but it's absolutely terrifying. Is this dangerous?

Answer

This sounds like a distressing feeling. What you may be describing is what we call palpitations. These are feelings like your heart raising. While a convulsing feeling is not the typical description, palpitations have been described as a pounding or a feeling like your heart is going to jump out of your chest. If this is an accurate description of your symptoms, then you need to be evaluated for a possible heart issue. There are a few different conditions that can cause palpitations. A common condition in young people that can cause palpitations is a valve abnormality called mitral prolapse. While most of the time it causes not problems, occasionally it can result in abnormal heart function. Another possibility is a heart arrhythmia. This is when the heart abnormally beats at a rate that is too fast. These possible problems are best looked at by a cardiologist. This type of doctor will be able to take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough cardiovascular exam. Depending on what that doctor thinks, you may warrant additional testing with an electrocardiogram or a more long term monitor known as a Holter monitor. This way your heart function can be looked at closely while you are experiencing an episode.

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Zocdoc Answers 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 (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.

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