Heart Palpitations - Key Points

  • Palpitations are feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, or beating too hard or fast. You may have these feelings in your chest, throat, or neck. They can occur during activity or even when you're sitting still or lying down
  • Palpitations are very common. They usually aren't serious or harmful, but they can be bothersome.
  • Strong emotions, vigorous physical activity, medicines, stimulants, and some medical conditions can cause harmless palpitations
  • Sometimes, palpitations are symptoms of arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are problems with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat. Some arrhythmias are signs of heart disease, including heart attack, heart failure, heart valve problems, or heart muscle problems. However, less than half of the people who have palpitations have arrhythmias
  • In some cases, the cause of palpitations can't be found
  • Symptoms of palpitations include feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, or beating too hard or fast. Palpitations may be a sign of a serious heart problem if you also feel dizzy or confused; are lightheaded, think you may faint, or do faint; have trouble breathing; have pain, pressure, or tightness in your chest, jaw, or arm; feel short of breath; or have unusual sweating
  • Your doctor may have already told you that your palpitations are harmless. However, if they become very noticeable or bothersome, you should see your doctor again. You also should see your doctor if they get worse, begin to happen more often, or occur with other symptoms
  • Your doctor will want to find out whether your palpitations are harmless or related to a heart problem. To do this, he or she may ask about your symptoms and medical history, do a physical exam, and order several basic tests
  • Treatment depends on the cause of the palpitations. Most palpitations are harmless and go away on their own. Your doctor may advise you to avoid things that trigger them. If you have a medical condition that causes palpitations, your doctor will treat you for that condition
  • You can take steps to prevent palpitations. Reduce anxiety and stress in your life. Avoid or limit stimulants. Treat medical conditions that may lead to palpitations

The above information is taken from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) website. This publication is not copyrighted.

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