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A Cardiologist’s Review of Prescription Medications for Palpitations

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Prescription Medications for Palpitations

Are medications truly the answer to frequent heart palpitations? Many conventional doctors would say yes, as evidenced by the millions of Americans taking drugs to treat their irregular heartbeats. But here’s the thing – our bodies are not running low on pharmaceuticals. There are no health conditions in this world created by a drug deficiency. Instead, our bodies are malnourished, exhausted, laden with toxins, and pushed to the limit by stress.

Pharmaceuticals recommended for palpitations often make the situation worse. They slow the heart down, thus allowing MORE extra beats to creep in.

While medications may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of heart palpitations, they’re merely masking a larger problem. Prescription drugs are not the panacea that conventional medicine wants you to believe. These treatments might not give you the outcomes you’re hoping for, and it’s crucial to know that they could lead to several potentially harmful side effects.

It’s time to explore other avenues and consider more sustainable and holistic approaches to addressing this pervasive issue.

Commonly prescribed drugs for heart palpitations

Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers help our bodies cope with stress by interacting with particular hormones within the nervous system. Often referred to as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, their main objective is to put the brakes on adrenaline—a hormone notorious for causing our hearts to race during high-stress situations. In accomplishing this, beta-blockers decrease heart rate, diminish heart contractions’ intensity, and lower blood pressure.

Stress hormones undoubtedly play a crucial physiological role in our bodies, and it’s not always bad. We depend on that invigorating surge of adrenaline to function. Regrettably, dampening this natural response leads to a host of side effects associated with beta-blockers, which encompass:

  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Diminished libido
  • Nausea
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Lightheadedness
  • Depression
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Weight gain

Beta-blockers can be downright dangerous, making the heart beat much too slowly or causing the blood pressure to bottom out. Furthermore, in some instances, beta-blockers may provoke heart block and exacerbate heart failure.

Commonly prescribed beta-blockers: Metoprolol (Lopressor®), Propranolol (Inderal®), and Atenolol (Tenormin®)

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers relax the heart muscle and blood vessels, which can help regulate the heart rate and alleviate palpitations. In addition to treating irregular heartbeats, they are often used to treat chest pain and high blood pressure.

Interestingly, calcium channel blockers often cause heart palpitations- the very ailment we are trying to avoid. Other common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Flushing (warmth or redness in the face)
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen ankles or feet (edema)
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

Commonly calcium-channel blockers: Amlodipine (Norvasc®) Diltiazem (Cardiazem®, Tiazac®, Tiazac® XC ) Felodipine (Plendil®) Nifedipine XL (Adalat XL®)

ACE Inhibitors

ACE inhibitors open, or dilate, the blood vessels, increasing blood flow to organs such as the kidneys, stomach, and heart. These commonly prescribed drugs, which manage high blood pressure and heart failure, have also found their way into treating heart palpitations. While they may not be the primary go-to medication for palpitations, their ability to lower blood pressure and reduce strain on the heart may indirectly decrease the frequency of heart palpitations.

A plethora of side effects accompanies the use of ACE inhibitors, some of which exacerbate the problem we are seeking to alleviate. Among the most notorious side effects is the so-called “ACE cough,” a persistent, dry cough that can make life downright miserable for those afflicted.

Moreover, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and even kidney problems are among the other unwelcome companions of ACE inhibitor use. These side effects serve as a reminder that, while medications might provide temporary relief, a holistic and sustainable approach to addressing heart palpitations remains the ultimate goal.

Commonly prescribed ACE inhibitors: Lisinopril (Zestril®), Enalapril maleate (Vasotec®), and Fosinopril sodium (Monopril®)

Antiarrythmic Drugs

Sometimes, heart palpitations can be caused by different heart rhythm issues that can make your heart beat too fast, too slow, or in an uneven way. Antiarrhythmics are used for heart palpitations because they address these abnormal heart rhythms. By acting on the heart’s electrical system, they target various channels to reduce irregular beats and slow abnormally fast electrical activity.

Ironically, arrhythmia medications can worsen the problem or lead to additional arrhythmias. Other commonly reported side effects of antiarrhythmics include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Intense thirst
  • Skin changes
  • Headaches
  • Ear ringing (tinnitus)
  • Photosensitivity
  • Swelling (edema)
  • Visual changes
  • Bowel and bladder difficulties

Commonly prescribed Antiarrhythmics:: Flecainide (Tambocor®), Digoxin (Lanoxin®), and amiodarone (Cordarone®)

Antianxiety Drugs

In many cases, stress and anxiety are the triggers behind heart palpitations. During heightened stress, the body releases adrenaline and other stress hormones that raise the heart rate and trigger abnormal heartbeats. As a result, many doctors prescribe medications to help manage anxiety, which may reduce heart palpitations indirectly.

Anti Anxiety medications come with numerous side effects, which may include the following:

  • Drowsiness, fatigue, or weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Dependency or withdrawal symptoms

Commonly prescribed Anti-anxiety medications: Lorazepam (Ativan®), Alprazolam (Xanax®), Diazepam (Valium®)

Diuretics

Diuretics, often called “water pills,” may seem an unconventional choice for heart palpitations. However, individuals with too much swelling (edema) are often prescribed these drugs. Diuretics indirectly alleviate the strain on the heart by encouraging the elimination of excess fluid and sodium from the body. Theoretically, this reduced workload can help provide a more stable heart rhythm and, in turn, help suppress palpitations.

Unfortunately, diuretics can further add to heart palpitations, as they often contribute to electrolyte imbalances in the body. Other common side effects include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Increased urination
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps or spasms

Commonly prescribed Diuretics: Furosemide (Lasix®), Indapamide (Lozide®), and hydrochlorothiazide

Next Steps

There is a time and place for prescription medications. However, it’s crucial to understand that pharmaceutical drugs merely address the tip of the iceberg. By focusing on the symptoms rather than the root cause, we risk overlooking the complex interplay of lifestyle factors, nutritional deficiencies, and stressors contributing to palpitations.

Should you find yourself with a prescription for heart palpitation medications, why not explore a virtual second opinion with one of our seasoned heart specialists at Natural Heart Doctor? Together, we can discuss strategies to taper off your medications and restore your heart’s natural rhythm, paving your way to the 100 year heart. 

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About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

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We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

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Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.