Heart palpitations

Heartbeat sensations; Irregular heartbeat; Palpitations; Heart pounding or racing

Palpitations are feelings or sensations that your heart is pounding or racing. They can be felt in your chest, throat, or neck.

You may:

  • Have an unpleasant awareness of your own heartbeat
  • Feel like your heart skipped or stopped beats

The heart's rhythm may be normal or abnormal when you have palpitations.

Heart chambers

The heart consists of four chambers in which blood flows. Blood enters the right atrium and passes through the right ventricle. The right ventricle pumps the blood to the lungs where it becomes oxygenated. The oxygenated blood is brought back to the heart by the pulmonary veins which enter the left atrium. From the left atrium blood flows into the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps the blood to the aorta which will distribute the oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.

Heart beat

Two distinguishable sounds can be heard during the cycle of the beating heart when listened to with a stethoscope. The heart sounds are usually described as a lup-dup sound. These sounds are due to the closing of the valves of the heart. Unusual heart sounds are called murmurs.


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The cardiac conduction system is a group of specialized cardiac muscle cells in the walls of the heart that send signals to the heart muscle causing it to contract. The main components of the cardiac conduction system are the SA node, AV node, bundle of His, bundle branches, and Purkinje fibers. The SA node (anatomical pacemaker) starts the sequence by causing the atrial muscles to contract. From there, the signal travels to the AV node, through the bundle of His, down the bundle branches, and through the Purkinje fibers, causing the ventricles to contract. This signal creates an electrical current that can be seen on a graph called an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). Doctors use an EKG to monitor the cardiac conduction system's electrical activity in the heart.



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