Your fibromyalgia MAY be the cause of your heart palpitations, but remember, heart palpitations can have many other causes including cardiac.

Just because fibromyalgia has been known to cause the perception of heart palpitations doesn’t mean that you can’t possibly have a cardiac arrhythmia or some other disorder that’s causing the fluttering or “skipped” heartbeat.

The hallmark features of fibromyalgia are chronic body-wide pain and tenderness. There may also be fatigue and dizziness.

But in fibromyalgia, there is also a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). And the ANS regulates heartbeat.

Many sufferers of fibromyalgia will report that their heart races or pounds after they rise from a seated position.

If all the pulse does is go up, this technically isn’t a palpitation, but rather, merely a sped-up heart rate (tachycardia). Though to the patient, it may be described as “palpitations.”

The tilt table test is very useful in evaluating ANS dysfunction in those with fibromyalgia who report frequent heart palpitations.

Commonly, patients will report tachycardia during tilt table testing. Because it’s triggered by postural changes, it’s called orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

It means that the pulse has risen more than 30 beats per minute after more than three minutes standing upright.

This doesn’t mean that the heartbeat has literally skipped or fluttered. It’s a steady rate, though elevated.

If you perceive a skipped, fluttering or irregular heartbeat from time to time, and just happen to have fibromyalgia, here is something to consider:

“Fibromyalgia presents with varied symptoms, and yes, some patients with fibromyalgia report palpitations, possibly due in part to increased awareness of pain, and associated anxiety in some patients,” says Glenn Meininger, MD, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology Services for the Baltimore region of the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute.

If you have fibromyalgia, it would still be a smart move to have a cardiologist examine you.

And keep in mind that other conditions can cause a jumpy heart such as overactive thyroid, persistent anxiety and high caffeine intake.

glenn meininger, md

Dr. Meininger is board certified in cardiac electrophysiology, cardiovascular disease and internal medicine and is widely regarded as an expert in the use of multiple modalities to treat cardiac arrhythmias.
Source, Current Rheumatology Reports (Dec. 2008)