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Heart Palpitations: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Heart palpitation is a condition when your heart either beats very fast or skips a beat. These changes in the heartbeat are strong enough to get noticed by you. It indicates that your heart has changed its functioning for a few moments.

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Have you ever noticed that when you stop after a good run, your heart beats too hard or fast?

Or when you are stressed, do you feel your heart start beating faster?

Medically, this faster beating of the heart is known as heart palpitations.

Palpitations feel like flip-flopping, pondering, or fluttering of the heart. Apart from the running or stress, you can feel these palpitations for several reasons. Usually, heart palpitations are harmless, but if you have any heart disease or are at risk of the same, take them seriously.

This article discusses all heart palpitations, their symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Let’s get started.

What Are Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitation is a condition when your heart either beats very fast or skips a beat. These changes in the heartbeat are strong enough to get noticed by you. It indicates that your heart has changed its functioning for a few moments.

To better understand what heart palpitations are, you must first know how the heart works. Your heart continuously generates certain electrical impulses that need to synchronize with the contractions of the heart muscles. When this synchronization happens, the heart creates a rhythmic sound: lub-dub, lub-dub, which we know as a heartbeat. For the effective and efficient functioning of the heart, every electrical note must be hit in a very regulated manner.

Sometimes, the electrical signals in the heart get blocked, disrupted, or delayed. The possible reasons are issues in heart muscle cells, irregular beats from some extra circuits, or blockages in the heart’s electrical system. This condition is known as arrhythmias or an irregular heartbeat.

Due to these extra electrical connections, your heart may start functioning faster, leading to fluttering or palpitations. However, heart palpitations are not always associated with irregular heartbeats. But sometimes, continuous palpitations with some other symptoms may indicate an underlying heart condition like arrhythmia. In such cases, it is essential to seek medical treatment.

There is no fixed moment or time to feel heart palpitations. You may feel them while lying down, after eating or drinking, during the day, or even at night.

Who Gets Heart Palpitations?

As such, there is no special category of people who get heart palpitations. However, this condition is found to be more common in women. Other than that, people can get heart palpitations at any time in their lifetime, whether they are teenagers, adults, pregnant, or entering menopause.

This is a common condition for which many people visit cardiologists; however, it is not always related to heart conditions.

Heart Palpitations Symptoms:

Normally, you may feel heart palpitations in your neck, throat, or chest. Some of the symptoms you may feel include:

  • Feeling an extra beat

  • Fluttering

  • Racing

  • Missing a beat

  • Pounding

  • Feeling like a thud

Sometimes, heart palpitations may be associated with other symptoms, such as:

  • Weakness

  • General anxiety

  • Dizziness

  • Losing consciousness

  • Getting faint

  • Getting into a state of confusion

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Excess sweating

  • Pain or tightening in the chest

  • Shortness of breath

  • Pain in the arms, chest, and jaw

  • Fast heartbeat (more than 100 beats per minute)

All the above symptoms indicate some serious health conditions that need immediate medical attention.

What Causes Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitations can occur due to some conditions related to the heart. However, sometimes they may occur due to some other non-heart factors that affect the intensity of the heartbeat.

Some common no-heart-related heart palpitations causes include:

  • Strenuous physical activity

  • Feeling strong emotions like stress, fear, anxiety, or panic attacks

  • Medical conditions, including thyroid, anemia, a lower blood sugar level, hypotension, dehydration, or fever

  • Addictive beverages like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine

  • Illegal drugs like amphetamines, and cocaine

  • Some medications, including diet pills, asthma inhalers, antidepressants, hypertension medicines, and antifungal or cough decongestants, which may also trigger heart palpitations

  • Heart palpitations in pregnancy, menstruation, or menopause due to hormonal imbalance in the body

  • Abnormal salt levels in the body

  • Some herbal supplements

  • After consuming food rich in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates

  • Some particular food items that may also lead to heart palpitations

Apart from these non-heart-related conditions, some heart palpitations reasons due to heart conditions include:

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Heart valve problems

  • Heart failure

  • Previous cases of heart attacks

  • Issues with heart muscles

When Should You Seek Medical Attention?

When you do some rigorous exercise like swimming, aerobics, running, or anything else, your heart starts beating fast during and just after exercising. However, it will return to its normal rhythm within a few minutes of stopping exercise. Likewise, some diets and stress may also cause temporary heart palpitations. Palpitations caused by these conditions should subside in some time and thus not be a cause for concern.

Besides these, there are some conditions when you feel heart palpitations, and you must seek medical care for them. However, there is no medical emergency in such cases. For instance, during a flight-or-fight response from your body, your heart may beat faster. Similarly, some people feel heart palpitations at night or their hearts flutter during pregnancy. Though it is common, if it occurs repeatedly, you must consult your healthcare provider.

Apart from these conditions, sometimes heart palpitations indicate some heart problem that needs immediate medical attention. Long-lasting palpitations, especially those when the heart beats faster for a longer period, do not become normal even after hours. Mostly, pondering the heart settles down in a while; if it doesn’t, seek medical attention immediately.

If you are experiencing palpitations recurrently, take a heart monitoring device to measure your heartbeat. If it is higher than 110 beats per minute, it is a sign of arrhythmia and needs medical intervention.

Sometimes you may experience sudden heart palpitations if you are in your 60s and 70s without any history of experiencing them before. If that is the case with you, it may occur due to an irregular heartbeat in your upper heart chamber. Medically, this condition is atrial fibrillation and may lead to stroke or other heart complications if not treated.

When you feel palpitations without any of the common reasons mentioned above, it indicates a problem. Contact your healthcare provider for a proper medical evaluation.

Risk Factors Associated with Heart Palpitations

If ignored, heart palpitations can have serious consequences. Thus, you must see a medical professional if you are noticing them more frequently. The possible complications can be:

  • Fainting: Due to the faster beating of the heart, your blood pressure may drop instantly, resulting in fainting. People who have congenital heart conditions or valve issues are more likely to faint.

  • Cardiac Arrest or Heart Attack: In very rare cases, palpitations occur due to some threatening heart disease, which may result in cardiac arrest.

  • Stroke: Sometimes, palpitations may occur due to atrial fibrillation (some irregularities in the upper heart chambers). In such cases, the blood may accumulate and form clots. These clots may, at times, block an artery, resulting in a stroke.

  • Heart Failure: Some types of arrhythmias may affect the pumping capacity of the heart. However, treating the cause of this arrhythmia may improve the heart’s functioning again.

Diagnosis of Heart Palpitations

If you experience heart palpitations in your day-to-day life, you don't need to feel them during your doctor’s visit either. So, you must know how to explain your problem clearly to your healthcare provider. For a proper diagnosis, you must answer these questions properly:

When and how often do you get heart palpitations?

For how long do you feel the same?

What makes you feel better with palpitations?

Are there any triggers?

Do you feel any other symptoms?

When do you mostly feel them? (Is it while working, sleeping, or exercising, etc.)

Once you answer all these questions, your healthcare provider may ask you certain questions. These are mostly related to your medical history, diet, symptoms, and any special medications or herbal products you are consuming.

After that, your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination to check your heartbeat. This examination will help them identify any abnormality in your heartbeat or arrhythmia.

Further, to understand your heart palpitations, your healthcare provider may advise you to undergo some tests. These tests are:

  • Urine Tests: The urine exam helps in detecting stimulants that might be disrupting your heartbeat. Normally, a urine test measures blood sugar levels, blood cells, electrolytes, hormones, and catecholamines.

  • Blood Tests: During blood tests, the examiner may check for thyroid levels, blood cell levels, and the number of electrolytes in your body.

  • Cardiac Stress Test: This is the treadmill test. In this, you are made to walk or run on the treadmill for a certain period. The examiner tracks your heart rate and changes in your heart rhythm while you are on the treadmill. Sometimes, cardiac stress tests are also done by making you ride on a stationary cycle.

  • Echocardiogram: During this test, a heart ultrasound is done to examine its shape, size, and motion. If the doctor finds any irregularity in any of them, it may be the reason for your heart palpitations.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG): In this test, the health examiner will put some small electrodes on your chest. These electrodes will measure the electrical impulses coming from the heart. With the rhythm of these impulses, doctors can identify any heart-related reasons, such as arrhythmias or congestive heart failure, for your palpitations. Sometimes, doctors also prescribe you a Holter monitor, a type of ambulatory monitor that can monitor heart activity for a longer period. Apart from this, you can also purchase personal ECG monitors from reputed brands like OMRON. You can wear these ECG monitors for the whole day and monitor your heart health continuously.

  • Chest X-ray: Your healthcare provider may also perform a chest X-ray to study the anatomy of your heart and lungs to find out any abnormalities.

Once you have the results of these tests in your hands, you can again visit your healthcare provider. After analyzing your reports, he may suggest a further course of treatment and explain the reason behind your palpitations.

Treatment for Heart Palpitations

Treatment for heart palpitations depends on the underlying cause. If the test results do not show anything serious, you may not require any treatment at all.

If any of your test results detect arrhythmia, your doctor may suggest treatment options, including medications, medical procedures, or, in rare cases, surgery.

Sometimes, before medications and other treatments, your healthcare provider may also suggest you monitor your heart activity for a detailed diagnosis. In such cases, you may be advised to wear an ECG monitor and other devices to keep a continuous record of your heart rhythms.

Don’t forget to go for any follow-up treatments required or as suggested by your doctor.

How to stop heart palpitations: Some self-care tips

Though proper prevention of heart palpitations depends on the main reasons, some of these tips can help you get them less often.

  • Indulge in some breathing exercises such as deep breathing, relaxation techniques, tai chi, yoga, or meditation.

  • Limit the amount of your alcohol intake.

  • Avoid overusing tea or coffee.

  • Stop having tobacco/nicotine products.

  •  Some foods to avoid if you have heart palpitations include salty, sugary, spicy, or high-carb foods as they may trigger heart palpitations. Sleeping after having such spicy foods can make you feel heart palpitations at bedtime.

  • Keep a check on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Try keeping a record of your blood pressure with the blood pressure monitor.

  • Stop medications or any other supplements that you believe trigger your palpitations.


If you experience something like palpitations but are not sure, try electronic devices, such as OMRON’s ECG monitor, for monitoring your heart activity. It will record your heart’s electrical impulses and give you a complete record via the OMRON Connect App. These records can help you know whether there are some irregular heartbeats or if your fluttering feeling is the result of something else.

Heart palpitations can be harmless or may be warning signs for some conditions. Whatever the case, never hesitate to share your questions and concerns with your family, friends, or healthcare provider. Discussing your issues with a medical professional can help with the correct diagnosis and treatment.

It’s time to take care of yourself. Get OMRON’s ECG monitor and track your heart’s health effectively.


Website, N. (2024, June 13). Heart palpitations.
Heart Palpitations: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. (2024, June 3). WebMD.

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