Pediatric Heart Expert Forum
Heart Racing
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Questions in this forum are answered by pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and anesthesiologists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This forum is for questions and support about pediatric heart problems, symptoms and topics such as heart murmurs, palpitations, fainting, chest pain, congenital heart defects (including management and intervention), fetal cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, arrhythmias and pre-participation athletic screening.

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Heart Racing

My 17 year old daughter, who is in great overall health, has just recently started having a problem with her heart racing.  She has called me from school at least 1 -2 times per week saying that she was just sitting at her desk when all of a sudden her heart started racing and it felt like all the blood had rushed to her head. She states that these episodes only last a couple minutes, but they leave her pale and exhausted.  She has been sent to the office to lay down because her teachers say she looks like she is going to faint - though she says she doesn't feel that way.  We have ruled out caffeine drinks, energy drinks, excessive sweets, or pills of any kind.  I have even made sure that she has not taken sudafed for nasal problems when she has reported these episodes.  I have been paying close attention to her eating habits as teenage girls are obsessive about their weight, but cannot find anything overly alarming.  Also wondered about drops in sugar, but she says orange juice and such makes no difference in how she feels.  She has an appointment in a few days, but ideas on what to ask would be appreciated.
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773637_tn?1327450515
Dear CAM,

It is difficult to say exactly what is happening here without more history.  The two possible things that this could be are an arrhythmia, which is an abnormal fast heart rhythm, or sinus tachycardia, which is a fast normal heart rate.  She may need to have a special monitor to diagnose this, or it may be able to be ascertained by history, exam, and ECG.  To rule out sinus tachycardia, I would make sure that she is adequately hydrated, taking 32-48 ounces of fluid per day, not skipping meals, and not having any caffeine intake.  This may help prior to your visit.  If she passes out with this or has significant chest pain with this, she should be evaluated in the emergency department sooner than her outpatient visit,.
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Sorry - forgot to add - she has no other symptoms at the time of these episodes, no dizziness, no shakiness, no nausea, nothing - just a racing heart and feeling like all the blood has gone to her head.
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This Forum's Experts
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Jeffrey R Boris, M.D.Blank
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
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Marie M Gleason, M.D.Blank
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA
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