Palpitation is a symptom of increased heartbeat frequency

Increased heart rate can occur due to an illness or due to anxiety, stress or excitement.

Palpitations can be frequent and of shorter or longer duration.

They are the subjective manifestation of an accelerated heartbeat.

They can begin and end abruptly and may be accompanied by paleness, a sense of weakness (asthenia) and cold sweats.

The causes of palpitations can occur in a variety of different disease conditions and equally varied emotional situations.

The most common causes of palpitations are:

  • Emotionality;
  • Physical or psychic stress;
  • Tachyarrhythmias;
  • Orthostatic intolerance syndromes: standing causes an acceleration of the heartbeat, which can lead to fatigue, drowsiness and disorientation;
  • Bronchodilator drugs used in the treatment of asthma and bronchospasm such as Salbutamol;
  • Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and substances of abuse such as cocaine.

The child may report a feeling of a pounding heart.

Only rarely are the symptoms more worrying:

  • Sense of tiredness (asthenia);
  • Dizziness;
  • Drowsy state;
  • Feeling of difficulty breathing;
  • Chest pain;
  • Fainting.

The assessment of the symptom palpitations or heart palpitations is often complex and ineffective.

This stems from the fact that palpitations are a symptom that can depend on a large number of different clinical conditions.

Moreover, the child often has no symptoms at the time of the initial assessment: palpitations are usually episodes that recur at unpredictable intervals and are also of short duration.

After listening to the history of the child and his family and examining him, the paediatrician may send him for a specialist cardiological examination.

The family history is important because it may lead to the suspicion of a hereditary heart rhythm disorder.


Palpitations, if deemed necessary, the cardiologist may request one or more instrumental examinations:

  • Electrocardiogram;
  • Echocardiogram;
  • Stress test;
  • Holter ECG (complete dynamic electrocardiogram) to record the child’s heart rhythm for 24 hours.

The results of these investigations allow the cardiologist to rule out or diagnose a heart rhythm disorder, i.e. an arrhythmia.

In most cases, no treatment is necessary.

At most, your doctor may advise you to reduce your consumption of drinks containing caffeine.

The situation is different if a cardiac arrhythmia has been diagnosed and requires specific therapy.

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