Heart Palpitations Treatments and Drugs

Many kinds of treatments abound for palpitations that come about from heart rhythm or heart rate problem.


Medicines specifically antiarrhythmics are the most common types of treatments for palpitations. These agents are generally classified according to their mechanism of action. There are four classes of antiarrhythmic drugs. These are:

Class I antiarrhythmic drugs – These drugs are known as sodium channel blockers. They function by inhibiting sodium channels to help weaken the impulse conduction in the heart. The problem with these drugs is that they lessen the pumping effectiveness of the heart which can even aggravate arrhythmia.

Certain types of these drugs are:


Class II antiarrhythmic drugs – These are called beta-blockers and they weaken the force of contraction and slow down the heart rate by weakening the sensitivity of cells to adrenaline-like substances as well as to adrenaline itself that affect beta receptors. These drugs are utilized for the treatment of supraventricular tachycardias (SVTs). Beta blockers are also used to help suppress ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

Beta blockers are known to cause mild bradycardia, upset stomach, fatigue, and left ventricular depression. They also are used after a heart attack and for treatment of angina and high blood pressure.

Some examples beta blocker drugs include:


Class III antiarrhythmic drugs – The drugs are termed potassium channel blockers and function by extending the recovery period of cardiac cells after they have transmitted an impulse thus preventing the electrical pathways from generating an arrhythmia or at least only allow slower arrhythmias.

Some known potassium channel blockers include:

Ibutilide – Given intravenously

Class IV antiarrhythmic drugs – The drugs are called calcium channel blockers and they help relax the heart rate by inhibiting the calcium channels of the heart thereby slowing down electrical conduction at the atrioventricular (AV) node.

Calcium channel blockers also have the ability to widen the blood vessels and lessen the force of cardiac contraction. These drugs are useful in lowering the ventricular rate of individuals suffering from atrial fibrillation and control some types of SVT.

Examples of calcium channel blockers include:


Other Medicines

Digoxin – This drug is helpful in the remedy of heart failure by enhancing the strength of heart muscle contractions. Digoxin is also effective in treating atrial tachycardia, atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation by weakening conduction through the atrioventricular node. It is often taken along with calcium or beta channel blockers.

Adenosine – Adenosine is a medicine that blocks or slows conduction through the AV node by affecting the function of acting adenosine receptors. Adenosine is used for acute treatment of supraventricular tachycardias (SVTs) and is only offered in intravenous form.


Pacemakers are gadgets disk are no more than a couple of ounces in weight.  It is composed of electronic circuitry, a battery, leads or pacing wires and a pulse generator (pacemaker) containing a battery and electronic circuitry. The wires connect the pacemaker to the heart. The pacemaker battery can work for 5 to up to 10 years.

Usually the pacemaker is attached under the skin, just beneath the collarbone. The installation of the pacemaker can last for hours and the procedure is considered an out-patient procedure. There are some people though who will undergo this procedure that may require an overnight hospital stay. The most common treatment for bradycardia is the implantation of an artificial pacemaker.  The pacemaker functions by sending electrical signals into the heart if it senses that the heart does not give out an electrical impulse after a certain while.

There are also pacemakers that help patients with fast heartbeats. These devices are implanted to automatically stop ongoing fast heart rhythms.

Electrical Cardioversion and Defibrillation

Cardioversion entails applying an electric shock to the heart to help address arrhythmia to bring about a normal heart beat once again. Two electrical paddles shock the heart when applied on the chest; they can also be applied one on the back and one on the chest. When the electricity is delivered, the beat of the heart stops for a very short while. The heart’s electrical system then is reset bringing and resuming the heart back to a normal beat.

Cardioversion is usually used to address severe tachycardias and SVT (atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter).  The changing of ventricular fibrillation to a sinus rhythm is known as defibrillation.

Radiofrequency Ablation

This treatment entails the ridding of certain small areas of in the heart’s electrical pathways with the use of catheters.  The catheters are woven through the blood vessels to the heart. X-ray is used to map the electrical circuitry of the heart to help guide the catheters and then study circuitry of the heart’s electrical signals conveyed by catheters to locate the circuit.

Electricity is conveyed to the tip of the wire after the mapping of the circuit. The electricity results in a small burn at the area of the catheter tip destroying the circuit. This technique is considered very safe and effective in correcting irregular heart beats.

ICDs – Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

For patients who have a history of resuscitated sudden death or suffering from ventricular tachycardia, an ICD can be implanted surgically under the scapula of the patient to send an electric shock to the heart if the patient experiences severe arrhythmia. A cardioverter-defibrillator may not stop arrhythmias and so they are usually combined with other therapy that helps prevent arrhythmias.


This ancient form of Chinese medicine sees palpitations as possible conditions for certain type of energy (Qi) deficiency. Qi or chi according to Chinese medicine is the life giving energy existing in all living things and travels throughout the body like blood through energy pathways called meridians. Qi is composed of two forces called yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy). Forms of energy deficiency and conditions in the body that cause palpitations and the right treatment for them include:

Heart Gallbladder deficiency
Heart Spleen deficiency
Heart Yin deficiency
Fluids attack Heart
Heart Blood Stasis
Heart Yang deficiency

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