3 August: Q&A with Dr Chris Pepper

Recently I started experiencing spells when my heart races. The pounding lasts a few minutes and is sometimes accompanied by dizzy spells. It has happened a few times recently. Could this be a sign of something serious that I should get checked out and what tests are available to me? I am a 49-year-old man.

Dr Chris Pepper, Consultant Cardiologist replies:

Awareness, often unpleasant, of your own heart beat is termed ‘palpitation’.  Your description of a sustained racing sensation accompanied by dizziness suggests your heart may be slipping into an abnormal rhythm, or arrhythmia.

There are many forms of arrhythmia. Some are dangerous, however if you are otherwise well, have no other heart problems and are not losing consciousness during your palpitations it would suggest that your arrhythmia is relatively unlikely to be putting you at risk. Despite this the symptoms can be unpleasant, unpredictable and may be frightening.

Fortunately most forms of arrhythmia are readily treated either with rhythm stabilising drugs or increasingly commonly with a potentially curative treatment called catheter ablation. This involves fixing the problem within the heart by through  special wires (catheters)passed via the veins at the top of your leg. This can be performed under local anaesthetic or only light sedation and can often be done without the need to spend a night in hospital.

I would encourage you to speak to your doctor about the possibility of a referral to a heart specialist with an interest in treating heart rhythm disorders. He or she may recommend tests which could include heart traces (ECGs) or scans in order to identify the nature of the problem. Further information can be obtained from the heart rhythm charity Arrhythmia Alliance www.heartrhythmcharity.co.uk.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...

Dr Chris Pepper
Dr Chris Pepper, Consultant Cardiologist, Spire Leeds Hospital, Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Dr Chris Pepper, Consultant Cardiologist, Spire Leeds Hospital

What's up Doc? is brought to you in association with

The material published on this page is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

Click here for the full What's Up Doc? Consultant Q&A archive

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)