Heart Palpitations and Headaches: Causes and Treatments

Both headaches and heart palpitations are common signs occurring at some point of everyone’s life. When they occur alone, they don’t present a big concern. However, when they are associated together, they could indicate serious medical conditions which require proper medical treatment.

What Causes Heart Palpitations and Headaches?

If heart palpitations are associated with headaches and tend to occur frequently, you should seek medical help and get examined. These are the possible causes.

1. High Blood Pressure

In mild to moderate cases of high blood pressure, there are no signs and symptoms at all. For this reason, high blood pressure is commonly known as the silent killer. The disease is diagnosed usually only in its advanced stages when permanent damage to the heart and circulatory system already occurred.

However, sometimes people with mild to moderate high blood pressure notice headaches, shortness of breath, blurred vision or dizziness. Other less common symptoms include heart palpitations, fatigue or even impotence. If you notice the above-mentioned symptoms, you should get a checkup and determine if you have problems with your blood pressure.

2. Migraine

A migraine is a type of a headache often associated with the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to smell
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Sensitivity to light

However, certain people suffering from migraine headaches also report heart palpitations, dizziness, depression, pain in the gallbladder, excessive thirst, excessive belching, blurred vision, shaking, tremor, drowsiness, impaired ability to speak, etc.

3. Mitral Valve Prolapse

One of the causes of heart palpitations and headaches is mitral valve prolapse. It is the most common valve abnormality affecting the heart. This medical condition is characterized by a prolapse of the mitral valve into the left atrium, the upper left chambers of the heart, while the heart contracts.

Common signs and symptoms of mitral valve prolapse include:

  • Heart palpitations, a sensation of extra heartbeats
  • Fast and pounding heartbeat
  • Chest pain, usually as a sharp or dull pain which lasts from a couple of seconds and up to a couple of hours. 
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue, due to an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronically cold hands and feet
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired memory
  • Numbness and a tingling sensation in the upper and lower extremities
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Sleeplessness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Intestinal problems

How Are Heart Palpitations and Headaches Treated?

1. High Blood Pressure

The following lifestyle changes can help you maintain your blood pressure under control, as well as, prevent it from occurring in the first place:

  • Reduce salt consumption – Normally, a healthy adult consumes around 9 to 12 grams of salt each day. If you reduce your salt intake to 5 grams a day, you can lower your blood pressure. 
  • Eat a balanced diet – By eating certain types of foods such as green leafy vegetables, various fruits, whole grains, oatmeal, beans, nuts, various seeds, and fish, you will be healthy and your blood pressure will be within its normal ranges.
  • Avoid stress – Try to go for a walk, swim, do yoga, have a meditation, read a book, listen to music or do whichever other relaxation techniques which can help you relax and stay stress-free.
  • Be active – According to current guidelines of high blood pressure treatment, each day at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity dynamic aerobic, at least 5 days a week is needed. You can choose between jogging, walking, swimming and cycling, whichever you prefer.
  • Avoid alcohol, illegal drugs and smoking – They will only make your high blood pressure get worse.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Get rid of those extra pounds in order to have a blood pressure within its normal ranges.

Certain drug treatments are needed for the treatment of high blood pressure, when simple lifestyle changes can’t control it. Medications are recommended in cases when the high blood pressure gets above 140/90 mmHg. Based on your own health and many other factors, your doctor will prescribe you one or more of the following medications for the treatment of your high blood pressure:

  • Diuretics
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Beta blockers
  • Alpha blockers
  • Central agonists
  • Vasodilators
  • ACE (angiotensinc-converting enzyme)
  • Peripheral adrenergic inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers

2. Migraine

In case your heart palpitations and headaches are caused by migraine, certain self-measures performed on your own can help. Give the following tips a try:

  • Get plenty of sleep but be careful not to sleep more than you should. Adults are recommended to sleep between 7 to 8 hours each night.
  • Rest as much as possible and try to relax in a quiet and dark room away from light, sound, and smells.
  • Practice muscle relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, etc.
  • Track your migraine headaches and get to know your triggers, as well as what calms and resolves these headaches.

If these above-mentioned self-help tips fail to provide a relief, you can try many medications available on the market today. Common medications used for the treatment of migraine include:

  • Painkillers which help relieve migraine headaches
  • Preventive medications in order to reduce the frequency and the severity of migraine headaches. These medications are taken daily over a long period of time until the desired goals are achieved.

3. Mitral Valve Prolapse

In cases when there are no symptoms, no treatment is required for mitral valve prolapse. However, when the above-mentioned symptoms start to become noticeable, the following medications are prescribed by your doctor:

  • Beta blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Aspirin
  • Blood thinners
  • Heart rhythm medications

In severe cases of mitral valve prolapse, a surgical treatment is required which consists of repair or a total replacement of the damaged mitral valve prolapse. 

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