By Medicover Hospitals / 19 Sep 2023

What are Palpitations?

Palpitations are sensations or feelings of an irregular, rapid, or strong heartbeat. People who experience palpitations often describe them as feeling like their heart is fluttering, pounding, racing, skipping a beat, or beating too hard or too fast. Palpitations can be upsetting and may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or worry.


To function properly, the heart needs its natural surroundings. This is especially true for the heart's electrical system; changes in electrical conduction might result in the heart's ability to pump blood being reduced. Palpitations can be caused by aberrant electrolyte levels in the body, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It can also be caused by anemia or hyperthyroidism. Some of the common stimulants that are said to be irritable are:


An arrhythmia is a problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia, the heart beats either too fast or too slowly, or with an irregular rhythm.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM):

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes hypertrophied (abnormally thick). The thickened heart muscle can make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood.

Heart failure:

Heart failure can be caused by coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood like normally does.

Congenital heart disease:

Congenital Heart Disease is known as a congenital heart defect. The congenital heart is a defect in the structure of the heart that is present at birth.

Heart valve disease:

Heart valve disease occurs when the heart valves do not work properly.

Coronary artery disease:

Coronary artery disease is the blockage of the coronary arteries. This condition is usually caused by the build-up of Cholesterol and fatty deposits inside the arteries.

  • Light-headedness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pulse rate over or less than the normal pulse rate
  • Having heart disease or family history, recurrent fainting, or unexplained seizure disorder
  • Exercise, particularly if they cause loss of consciousness


Electrocardiography (ECG):

Electrocardiography (ECG): This records the electrical activity of the heart through electrodes attached to the skin.

Electrophysiologic Testing:

An Electrophysiology (EP) is a test that records the electrical activity and the electrical pathways of the heart.

Coronary angiography:

Coronary angiography: A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see the heart’s blood vessels. The test is done to see if there is a restriction in blood flow going to the heart.


An Echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to produce echocardiograms (images of your heart). This common test to see the heart beating and pumping blood.

Blood Tests:

Blood tests may be ordered to check for underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid problems or electrolyte imbalances, which can contribute to palpitations.

Stress Test:

A stress test involves monitoring your heart's activity while you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. It can reveal abnormal heart rhythms that may occur during physical activity.


The treatment for palpitations depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In many cases, palpitations may not require specific treatment if they are infrequent, harmless, and not associated with an underlying heart condition. However, if palpitations are frequent, severe, or linked to an underlying medical issue, treatment options may include:

Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Reducing or eliminating triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.
  • Managing stress through relaxation techniques, meditation, or counseling.
  • Ensuring adequate hydration and maintaining a balanced diet.


  • If palpitations are related to an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), your healthcare provider may prescribe antiarrhythmic medications to help regulate your heart rate and rhythm.
  • In cases where anxiety or panic disorder is contributing to palpitations, medications for anxiety or depression may be considered.

Management of Underlying Conditions:

  • Treating and managing any underlying medical conditions contributing to palpitations, such as thyroid disorders or anemia.
  • Controlling high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions.


In certain cases of arrhythmias, electrical cardioversion may be performed to restore a normal heart rhythm. This involves delivering an electrical shock to the heart.

Catheter Ablation:

For specific types of arrhythmias, a procedure known as catheter ablation may be recommended. It involves using a catheter to target and destroy the abnormal tissue responsible for the arrhythmia.

Implantable Devices:

In some cases, an implantable device such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be necessary to regulate heart rhythm and prevent life-threatening arrhythmias.

Holter or Event Monitor:

If palpitations are infrequent and not captured during an office visit, long-term monitoring with a Holter or event monitor may help diagnose the underlying cause.

Lifestyle Changes:

Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and following a balanced diet, can help manage palpitations and reduce the risk of heart-related issues.


If your doctor says therapy isn't essential, you can take the following steps to reduce your risk of palpitations:

  • Try to figure out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. Keep track of your activities and the foods and beverages you consume, as well as when you experience palpitations.
  • Try relaxation methods, deep breathing, yoga, or tai chi if you're anxious or agitated.
  • Caffeine should be consumed in moderation or not at all. Energy drinks should be avoided.
  • Do not use tobacco products or smoke.
  • Ask your doctor if there are any alternatives to a medicine that causes palpitations.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Maintain a balanced diet.
  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume.
  • Attempt to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level.

When to see a Doctor?

Talk to your doctor if you notice that your heart rate is faster than normal. Doctors cannot always identify the cause of heart palpitations. They will need to rule out cardiac arrhythmia like tachycardia and other medical conditions like hyperthyroidism.

There is usually little risk of complications with heart palpitations unless they are caused by underlying heart disease. If they are caused by heart disease, you may experience:

  • Fainting if your heart is beating too fast and your blood pressure drops
  • Cardiac arrest if your palpitations are caused by arrhythmias and your heart is not beating effectively
  • Stroke if your palpitations are related to atrial fibrillation.
  • Heart failure if your heart does not pump well for a long time.

Talk to your doctor if you have palpitations along with other symptoms or if you have any other health concerns.

Home Remedies

People may use the following home remedies to relieve the short-term pain of swallowing:

  • When feeling anxious or stressed, try relaxation exercises, deep breathing, and yoga.
  • Limit intake of caffeine.
  • Avoid caffeine-containing energy drinks.
  • Stop smoking.Exercise regularly.
  • Stick to a healthy diet.
  • Reduce alcohol intake.
  • Try to keep the blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are palpitations??

Palpitations are the sensation of the heart beating too hard or too fast, skipping a beat, or fluttering. You may notice heart palpitations in the chest, throat, or neck.

2. How long do heart palpitations last?

Heart palpitations are common, they often last for a few seconds. By taking doctor-prescribed medication or by following some healthy life habits you can get rid of heart palpitations.

3. What causes heart palpitations?

Palpitations can be caused by heart conditions and many other causes include certain medicines, hormone changes, alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, vigorous exercise, stress, anxiety or nervousness, panic attacks, Coronary artery disease, Congenital heart disease, Heart valve disease, Heart failure, Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy(HCM), Arrhythmia, Anemia, Hyperthyroidism.

4. When to worry about heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations feel like having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart. When you experience heart palpitation along with these symptoms Lightheadedness, Chest pain, Shortness of breath, Pulse rate over or less than the normal pulse rate, a family history, loss of consciousness. Immediately seek a medical emergency or consult the doctor.

5. What do heart palpitations feel like?

Heart palpitations feel like having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart.

6. Heart palpitations when lying down?

Heart palpitations can be frightening, especially if they occur when you are lying down to sleep. You may notice a pulsing sensation in their neck, chest, or throat when they happen.

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