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What Causes Palpitations in Pregnancy?

Pregnant women who experience heart palpitations should see their physician to rule out any underlying health problems.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2014
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Palpitations in pregnancy can be caused by increased blood volume and strain on the heart, hormones, stress, or heart conditions. They are not uncommon and do not necessarily indicate a sign of disease, but it is advisable to receive a medical evaluation to check for potential problems. A medical provider can look for possibly serious causes to determine if the palpitations are benign, and may have some recommendations for reducing their intensity and frequency. If patients experience heart palpitations accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, and faintness, they should seek immediate medical attention.

During pregnancy, women produce more blood, and the heart has to work harder to circulate it through the body. This can cause heart palpitations, where the heartbeat feels momentarily stronger or may flutter in the chest. These can also explain changes in blood pressure and episodes of dizziness in pregnancy. Patients who notice heart palpitations can take note of the circumstances; for example, they might occur after rising from a seated to standing position, indicating that the heart had to start working harder to get blood to the legs.

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Another potential cause is hormones, particularly progesterone. Hormonal shifts occur during pregnancy and can sometimes cause heart palpitations. Stress can also play a role, as women may be emotionally strained by the pregnancy and preparations for birth. These things are normal, but the physiological results may be alarming or unexpected. People with no history of heart problems who develop heart palpitations in pregnancy often have a benign cause like stress, hormones, or circulatory system changes.

More seriously, heart palpitations in pregnancy can be caused by an underlying heart problem. This may not have been apparent before the pregnancy, when the increased strain on the heart would make it more noticeable. Patients who develop arrhythmias or palpitations in pregnancy and experience symptoms like sweating and dizziness may need to be evaluated by a cardiologist. The doctor can perform some tests to learn more about the cause of the palpitations in pregnancy to determine if the patient needs a medical intervention.

People with existing heart conditions who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant may want to discuss the situation with their doctors. Such patients can successfully carry pregnancies to term, but may need to take some special care to protect themselves and their fetuses. It is also important to be aware that some medications used to manage heart problems can be dangerous to a developing fetus, which may make it necessary to consider alternatives for the duration of pregnancy.

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donasmrs
Post 3

@fify-- I completely understand, I've also been experiencing heart palpitations and I never had them before my pregnancy.

I've even been to the ER a couple of times because the palpitations got very bad. I though I might have a heart problem or maybe pregnancy related high blood pressure. But I was told that there is nothing wrong with me and that it's normal to have palpitations during pregnancy. They told me to take extra potassium, stay hydrated and rest. It's supposed to go away after some time.

literally45
Post 2

@fify-- It's probably fluctuating hormones but it could also be due to stress or even your diet. If it doesn't go away, you might want to see a doctor and get blood work done to see if you have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Sometimes magnesium, iron and calcium deficiencies can cause heart palpitations. So it's possible that you just need to add more sources of these to your diet or maybe a supplement. During pregnancy, the body needs more of these vitamins and minerals, so even if you are eating healthy, you might have a deficiency.

fify
Post 1

I'm four months pregnant and in the last several weeks, I've been experiencing a lot of heart palpitations, especially at night. It's hard to sleep when it's happening and I just don't understand what's going on with me.

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