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Heart Palpitations Forum >> General Discussion >> HEART PALPITATIONS 101 (Part 3)

Message started by Kyanite on Dec 17th, 2006, 3:54pm

Title: HEART PALPITATIONS 101 (Part 3)
Post by Kyanite on Dec 17th, 2006, 3:54pm

(Originally wrote by RLR)

Let's discuss the sensation that some of you described as a warm flushing sensation of your face and perhaps other body areas that accompanies the palpatations. One of the causes for this is epinephrine, also known as adenaline, released from the adrenal glands atop the kidneys and is designed to help prepare the body for fight or flight. It's effects can cause sensory disturbances, sweating, palpitations, nausea and other changes in physiology. Also recall our anatomy lesson. The vagus nerve stimulates many areas of the body in response to our environment or internal conditions caused by the outside environment, ie. a meal that produces indigestion. The vagus nerve provides all of us with a stable process called vagal tone. This tone or stability keeps us in a state of physiological preparednesswith relation to our environment. In response to environmental cues or situations, that tone or stabiity changes to prepare for what may be required. You've probably all seen a guy(or gal) that makes your heart "skip a beat." Ever wonder why that phrase ever came about? Think for a moment. If you've ever been emotionally overcome, your heart races or feels like it pounds in your chest, we begin sweating, our blood pressure rises, we feel nervous and at some point our face is overcome by a warm flushing sensation that we attribute to nervousness or embarassment. Well, guess what nerve plays a very big role in that entire process? Right Again!!! The VAGUS nerve. And epinephrine is right there to assist in the process.      
The above scenario would be a case of increased vagal tone. Well, if there's an increase, there's likely to be a case of decreased vagal tone as well. Indeed there is. decreased vagal tone can make us weak, nauseated, tremble, and even faint. It happens in cases of being excessively startled or frightened. Other conditions, such as diabetes can cause decreased vagal tone, but for our purposes we'll stick to conditions that by what I've read from all of you are non-disease provoking conditions, with the exception of one individual with Mitral Valve Prolapse but we'll touch on that in a bit.      
The point is that our body doesn't always accurately recognize proper environmental cues and the vagus nerve doesn't always know when and how to act. In other words, it misbehaves once in a while as a result of inappropriate stimuation. All sorts of things make the vagus nerve act out, including stress, anxiety, depression, illness and even ideopathic causes(origin or cause is unknown). In fact, there is work going on right now using electrical vagus nerve stimulation to treat depression, anxiety and even seizures.      
And here's a little extra for those who cough when experiencing a palpitation. Recall your anatomy lesson again. Remember we said the vagus nerve stimulates the pharnyx, larynx, bronchi and esophagus. Well, what do you know. Those are exactly the processes involved in the cough reflex. So when the vagus nerve inappropriately stimulates the heart and causes a palpitation it also stimulates in some cases the cough reflex. How about that!      

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