Chronic kidney disease may lead to heart issues, including a change in heart rhythm called heart palpitations. Treating both conditions can improve a person‘s overall health outcome.

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Heart palpitations are a type of arrhythmia where the heart beats rapidly and irregularly. Many health situations may lead to palpitations, such as cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Keep reading to learn more about how CKD may lead to heart palpitations, how these two conditions may affect your health, and when you should speak with a doctor.

Read on to discover more about heart palpitations.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that help the body filter waste products from the blood into the urine. When a person has kidney disease, waste builds up in the body. This may lead to other health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.

Research shows a link between kidney dysfunction and arrhythmias and – likewise – heart arrhythmias worsening kidney dysfunction. Kidney conditions may also contribute to diabetes and hypertension. Heart arrhythmias such as heart palpitations have a link with these two conditions.

When a person has CKD, their heart works harder to pump more blood to the kidneys. With this added stress, your body may have rhythm issues like palpitations and heart disease.

You may not know you have CKD, especially in the early stages. However, there are certain conditions associated with kidney disease. If you have these conditions, it’s important to have regular kidney function testing.

As CKD worsens (end stage kidney disease), you may experience:

Read on to discover more about chronic kidney disease.

Diagnosing CKD involves meeting with a healthcare professional for a physical exam and discussing your health history. After that, the doctor may order laboratory tests, such as:

  • blood tests to measure the level of creatinine in the blood
  • urine tests to measure the amount of protein (albumin) in the urine

Not only are these tests used to diagnose CKD, but they also help monitor the severity of kidney disease and the effectiveness of your current treatment.

Your healthcare professional may refer you to a cardiologist for an electrocardiogram. During this test, small sensors are attached to your skin, which read electrical signals from your heart.

Additional tests may include:

Symptoms of heart palpitations include a fluttering or pounding in your chest. Your heart may seem to beat faster than usual, or you may notice extra or skipped heartbeats. These sensations may happen for only a few seconds to minutes or can last longer.

Palpitations are worth mentioning to your doctor regardless of duration. Consider speaking with a healthcare professional if these episodes last for a long time, get worse over time, or if you have a family history of heart problems.

There is no standard treatment for CKD. Instead, treatment is individual and aimed at addressing the underlying cause of the kidney dysfunction.

Doctors may prescribe you medications to treat other conditions like:

Ask your doctor if these medications may cause or worsen heart palpitations. Diuretics (water pills), for example, may deplete your electrolytes and lead to arrhythmias.

Treatment options for kidney failure include dialysis, which may increase the risk of arrhythmias and cardiac arrest. A kidney transplant may help in the most severe cases. If CKD is severe enough for a transplant, then there may be an increase in a person’s risk of arrhythmia due to magnesium depletion.

Heart palpitations can lead to organ damage to the brain and heart.

Palpitations may also lead to several potentially life threatening complications, including:

Several risk factors in CKD and heart disease are common. If you have both of these conditions, you may be more likely to develop heart palpitations and other heart issues.

Risk factors include:

Researchers explain that treating palpitations is more difficult if a person has severe CKD. Due to the cyclical relationship between the kidneys and the heart, however, treating the arrhythmia may improve CKD.

It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to address both issues simultaneously. Without treatment, heart arrhythmias may shorten the life expectancy of people who also have kidney failure.

How common is CKD?

The CDC estimates that 1 out of every 7 adults in the United States has CKD.

How common are heart palpitations?

Studies show that around 16% of health appointments with primary care physicians involve people reporting heart palpitations.

How can I reduce my risk of developing CKD?

Eating a nutritious diet, exercising, reaching a “normal” BMI, and treating existing health conditions may help prevent CKD.

CKD and heart palpitations may occur together. One condition may worsen the other and vice versa. If you have CKD and notice heart palpitations, it’s important to talk with your doctor about it.

Treating both conditions can improve your quality of life and possibly extend your life, depending on the severity of your CKD.