Heart Palpitations

Palpitations are the feeling that your heart is beating hard, fast, or irregular. Some describe it as "pounding," "flip-flopping in the chest," or "skipped beats." Palpitations may occur in someone with heart disease. But they can also occur in a healthy person.

Heart-related causes:

  • Heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia)

  • Heart valve disease

  • Disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)

  • Coronary artery disease

  • High blood pressure

Non-heart-related causes:

  • Certain medicines such as asthma inhalers and decongestants

  • Some herbal supplements, energy drinks and pills, and weight loss pills

  • Illegal stimulant drugs such as cocaine, crank, methamphetamine, PCP, bath salts, and ecstasy

  • Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco

  • Health conditions such as thyroid disease, anemia, anxiety, and panic disorder

Sometimes the cause can't be found.

Home care

Follow these home care tips:

  • Don't use too much caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco, or any stimulant drugs.

  • Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter or herbal medicines you take.

Follow-up care

  • Follow up with your doctor, or as advised.

Call 911

This is the fastest and safest way to get to the emergency department. The paramedics can also start treatment on the way to the hospital, if needed.

Don't wait until your symptoms are severe to call 911. These are reasons to call 911:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeling lightheaded, faint, or dizzy, or losing consciousness

  • Very irregular heartbeat

  • Rapid heartbeat that makes you uncomfortable

  • Slower than usual heart rate along with symptoms

  • Chest pain with weakness, dizziness, heavy sweating, nausea, or vomiting

  • Extreme drowsiness, confusion, or weakness

  • Weakness of an arm or leg, or on one side of the face

  • Trouble with speech or vision

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have palpitations that last longer than normal, or are different from your past palpitations.

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