What are palpitations?

Thousands of patients every year are admitted to hospitals because of irregular, fast, or strong heartbeats. For the portion that will eventually be diagnosed with a heart condition, there are important choices to make moving forward. But there is rarely time in a short doctor’s visit to go over all the details.

This comprehensive overview fills that information gap by imparting everything there is to know about abnormal heart rhythms through all stages of care. Dr. Jeffrey L. Williams, MD, MS, FACC, FHRS, CPE, has worked to provide patients with complete information. There are various types of arrhythmias, and the benefits and risks of treatments for each will vary for each individual patient. Patients, as well as their families, need a thorough understanding to make a fully informed decision.

Along with types of treatments, Dr. Williams discusses what is happening on a physiological level and explains the full evaluation process that doctors use. His knowledge, gained over years of study and practice, offers the what, why, and how of this medical issue, so anyone can make the best decisions for the health of his or her family.


What are Palpitations? is available now at Amazon.

Contents include:

1.  Basics of Heart Anatomy and the Conduction System

Blood flow through the heart

Electrical conduction system of the heart

Coronary arteries

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

2.  Palpitations and Other Symptoms That May Represent Heart-Rhythm Abnormalities (Arrhythmias)


What is a normal heart rhythm?

What are abnormal heart rhythms?

What are palpitations?

Other symptoms that may represent heart-rhythm abnormalities

Know your ejection fraction

What are ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia?

Is there a difference between atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation?

Congestive heart failure and risk of arrhythmia

3.  How Are Heart-Rhythm Abnormalities Diagnosed?


Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

Twenty-four-hour Holter monitor

Two- to four-week outpatient telemetry monitor

Hospital telemetry

Smartphone-based applications

Tilt-table test

Implantable loop recorders


4.  Work-up and Evaluation of Heart-Rhythm Disorders (Meeting the Heart-Rhythm Physician)


History of present illness (HPI)

Past medical and surgical history (PMH)

Social history

Family history

Physical exam (including vital signs)

Pertinent studies

5.  What Are the Common Supraventricular (Top-Chamber) Tachycardias?


Premature atrial contractions

AV-node reentrant tachycardia

AV reentrant tachycardia

Atrial tachycardia

Atrial flutter

Atrial fibrillation

6.  What Is Atrial Fibrillation?


Normal electrical activation versus atrial fibrillation

Signs and symptoms

Causes of atrial fibrillation

Understanding your risk of stroke

Is there a difference between atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation?

Is there a cure for atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial flutter?

7.  What Are the Common Ventricular (Bottom-Chamber) Tachycardias?

Premature ventricular contractions

Ventricular tachycardia

Non–coronary disease VT

What are defibrillators?

8.  Treatment Options for Arrhythmias


Can exercise cause heart-rhythm problems?





9.  The Electrophysiology Study and Ablation Procedure

Preoperative risk assessment

Use of contrast agents during EP studies or ablations

Thyroid issues


Registration and check-in

Informed-consent process

The procedure room

The EP study

How does the doctor place catheters inside the heart?

What happens if my doctor cannot successfully find an arrhythmia?

What happens if my doctor cannot successfully ablate the arrhythmia?

Immediately after the EP study

Day after the EP study

10.  Possible Complications of Electrophysiology Studies and Ablations


Complications that can occur during or after EP studies

Special EP studies and ablations that may have higher rates of complications and lower success rates

11.  Postoperative Care

Care of the vascular access sites (showering/bathing)

Activity limitations


The first follow-up appointment after the EP study

Lifestyle considerations

12.  Psychosocial Impact of Arrhythmias

Adjustment to life after being diagnosed with heart-rhythm abnormalities

Quality of life in heart-rhythm patients

How do arrhythmias affect you and your family?

Arrhythmias in children and young adults

Can you have palpitations without arrhythmias?

13.  Conclusion