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Is It Possible For Kidney Problems To Cause Heart Palpitations?

Chronic kidney disease can cause problems of the heart, such as change in heart rhythm also referred to as heart palpitations. Treating both the kidney disease and the heart issues helps in improving the overall health and prognosis of the patient. 

What are Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitation is a condition where there is rapid beating of the heart in an irregular manner. It is a form of arrhythmia. There are many medical conditions that can cause rapid heartbeat, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD).and cardiovascular disease.

In this article, we will discuss how chronic kidney disease can cause heart palpitations and how these two conditions effects your overall health, and when should you consult your doctor.

Understanding the Relationship between Kidney Disease and Heart Palpitations

The kidneys are the vital bean-shaped organs that are responsible for filtering the waste products into the urine from the blood. When anyone has kidney disease, there is accumulation of waste/toxins in the body. This causes other health problems, such as stroke and heart disease.

 The research shows association between kidney dysfunction and arrhythmias and similarly heart arrhythmias can cause worsening of the kidney dysfunction (1). Kidney problems can also contribute to hypertension and diabetes. Heart arrhythmias like palpitations also have a connection with these two problems.

When someone is suffering from chronic kidney disease, the heart has to work harder in order to pump more blood to the kidneys. Because of this additional strain, there is development of rhythm issues in the body like heart disease and palpitations (2).

What are the Symptoms of Kidney Disease?

A person may not be aware of having chronic kidney disease more so in the early stages. However, there are some problems associated with kidney disease and when you are having these issues, then it is vital to undergo regular kidney function testing (3). If you are suffering from the following health conditions, then you need to check your kidney function, such as: hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and family history of failure of kidneys.

As  there is worsening of chronic kidney disease (end stage kidney disease) the following symptoms can be experienced: appetite loss, weight loss, frequent urination, blood in the urine, breathlessness, insomnia, pruritis, malaise, erectile dysfunction,  headaches and muscle cramping.

How is the Diagnosis of the Kidney Disease made?

Diagnosing chronic kidney disease consists of meeting with a doctor for a physical exam and medical history. Lab tests are done for further diagnosis of chronic kidney disease and these consist of:

Urine tests are done to find out the quantity of protein (albumin) present in the urine.

Blood tests are done to measure the creatinine levels in the blood.

These tests not only help in diagnosing chronic kidney disease, but they also help in assessing the severity of the kidney disease and how effective the treatment is. 

How is the Diagnosis of Heart Palpitations Made?

The patient will be referred to a cardiologist to get an electrocardiogram and other tests. In this particular test, there are small sensors which are attached to the skin and these read the electrical signals that are conducted from the heart.

Some of the tests done for diagnosis of palpations are: lab tests (urine and blood); stress test; 24-hr Holter monitoring; electrophysiology procedure; echocardiogram and cardiac catheterization. 

When Do You Need To See A Doctor If You Have Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitations symptoms consist of pounding or fluttering in the chest. The heart beat is rapid than usual and there may be skipped or extra heartbeats. This can be present for a few seconds to minutes or maybe even longer.

Regardless of duration, if you are having palpitations, then discuss with your doctor. Speak with your doctor if you have prolonged episodes of palpitations or if they worsen with time or if you have a family history of heart issues.

How to Treat Kidney Disease and How Does it Affect the Heart?

Chronic kidney disease has no standard treatment and it depends on patient to patient and also the underlying cause of the kidney problem.

Medications prescribed to treat other conditions such as: anemia, hypertension, high cholesterol and edema can also cause or worsen heart palpitations and it is better to ask your doctor regarding the same.

Some of the treatment options for kidney failure consist of dialysis, and this can increase the risk of cardiac arrest and arrhythmias. In acute cases, a kidney transplant may be required. If the chronic kidney disease is severe enough to need a transplant, then the risk for arrhythmia will be higher because of magnesium depletion (4).

Do Heart Palpitations Have Any Complications?

Heart palpitations can cause damage to the heart and brain. Palpitations can also lead to many potentially fatal complications, such as: heart failure, stroke and cardiac arrest.

What are the Risk Factors for Heart Palpitations If You Have Kidney Disease?

There are some common risk factors seen in heart disease and chronic kidney disease. In case of suffering from both these conditions, then the risk of developing heart palpitations and other heart problems is more (5).

Risk factors for suffering from heart palpitations when having chronic kidney disease are: being male, high blood glucose, hypertension, having a family history of this disease, imbalanced diet, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and high body mass index (BMI).

What is the Prognosis for People Suffering from Heart Palpitations Associated with Kidney Disease?

According to experts treatment for palpitations becomes more difficult when suffering from chronic kidney disease (6).  This is because of the cyclical relationship between the heart and kidneys; however, treatment of arrhythmia helps in improving the chronic kidney disease. Treating both these problems is important because if the heart arrhythmias are not treated, then it carries a risk of decreasing the life expectancy in individuals already suffering from kidney failure (6).

How Common Are Heart Palpitations?

According to studies, around 16% of consultations with primary care physicians are regarding patients having heart palpitations (7).

How Common Is Chronic Kidney Disease?

According to CDC, there is about 1 out of every 7 adults in America suffering from chronic kidney disease (8).

How to Cut Down Risk of Developing Chronic Kidney Disease?

To decrease the risk of chronic kidney disease, one has to follow a nutritious diet, regularly exercise, maintain a “normal” BMI, and treat the already present health conditions.


Chronic kidney disease and heart palpitations can occur together and one problem can worsen the other. When suffering from chronic kidney disease, if there are also heart palpitations, then consult your doctor right away. It is important to treat both these conditions to improve the quality of life and to potentially increase the lifespan.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 18, 2024

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