Roger Y. Wong, BMSc, MD, FRCPC, Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre, Vancouver, BC.
Palpitations are common in ambulatory older people and have a variety of causes. The correlation of palpitations and cardiac arrhythmias is poor. Basic assessment, which includes history taking, physical examination, 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), and laboratory data, is necessary but may not be sufficient to diagnose the underlying problem. Ambulatory ECG monitoring can be helpful, depending on the frequency of the palpitations. Continuous-loop event monitors are cost-effective in diagnosing palpitations, and the optimal duration of monitoring is two weeks. The overall clinical outcomes of patients with palpitations are favourable, with low mortality but high recurrence risk.
Key words: palpitations, arrhythmias, assessment, cardiac, older adults.