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Anesthesia

Palpitations and anesthesia

09/02/2008

Question:

I`ve never had surgery before except a c-section in which I was awake. My physician wants me to have my gallbladder out. There are no stones, but it is not working and causing me problems. My question is: I experience palpitations often. I`ve had many heart tests and was told not to worry about the palpitations. They are not dangerous. Is anesthesia safe if you have palpitations? I have a hard time even in a dentist`s office when they numb me. My heart starts to race and pound -- not a good feeling.

Answer:

There are many possible causes for palpitations, including endocrine diseases such as thyroid or adrenal problems, drugs, drug interactions, and heart disease. If you've had your heart fully checked out, plus had a general assessment for non-cardiac causes of palpitations then there should be little to worry about from your anesthesia.

Palpitations at the dentist following the injection of local anesthetic is a pretty common occurrence, and is presumably due to the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) that is routinely added to the anesthetic to make it last longer.

During anesthesia your heart is carefully monitored so your anesthesiologist will be able to pick up any abnormality of heart rate or rhythm immediately. Its sort of like having your own intensive care unit for the duration of the anesthesia.

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Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University