By Carrie Vittitoe
The loss of a loved one is a stress on the heart, emotionally and physically. “Physical or emotional stress can trigger a stress response in the body that leads to atrial fibrillation. As adrenaline, cortisol, or noradrenaline increase in the body, they can increase the likelihood of a heart rhythm disorder,” Dr. Morris says.
Coping mechanisms are important for all components of heart health. Getting good quality sleep, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, and avoiding tobacco and excess alcohol are things Dr. Morris recommends to his patients with heart rhythm disorders, but these are good suggestions for everyone dealing with stress in their lives.
An important thing to remember is that not all unusual heart rhythms are abnormal. Dr. Morris says people with normal heart rhythms can experience palpitations. If someone experiences a panic attack or runs up a few flights of stairs, heart palpitations would be expected. When it comes to atrial fibrillation, Dr. Morris says, “It can be very symptomatic but is generally not life-threatening.” The important thing is to check in with your doctor and, if necessary, see a specialist so that they can sort out whether palpitations are from an abnormal rhythm or not.
Sometimes heart palpitations requires wearing a heart monitor. Some monitors are meant to be worn for 24 hours, but Dr. Morris says some implantable heart monitors are the size of a paper clip and can be worn for up to three years. These monitors would be used in patients who have symptoms “a couple times a year that have been hard to catch,” he says.
Morris says there are even newer consumer products that work with smartphones to monitor heart rates. The Polar H10 heart rate sensor and the Scosche Rhythm are just two of the many consumer monitors that are available on the market.
Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash