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What All Should You Know About Heart Palpitations?

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What All Should You Know About Heart Palpitations?

Cardiology | by Dr. Ashok B Malpani | Published on 15/03/2023

Do you ever think about the sound your heart makes? Have you ever thought about the rhythmic beats of your heart? No, right? Well, it’s just not you. We, humans, tend to ignore the signals our heart keeps giving us and one of them is heart palpitations. It is when you feel as if your heart is racing or you skipped a beat. Usually, they are not serious and go away on their own. However, in certain cases, it can be an indication of some serious medical problem. If you aren’t mindful of heart palpitations, not to worry, in this blog, you will find everything related to it. Make sure to give it a read till the end to obtain information on heart palpitations as we will cover its causes, symptoms, etc.

What are heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are feelings of a heart beating fast, pounding or fluttering. They are the sensation that your heart has skipped a beat. If you experience it, you become more aware of your heartbeat. You can feel these sensations in your neck, heart, and throat. You might also notice different patterns in your heart rhythm during the palpitations.

According to health professionals, generally, these palpitations aren’t dangerous and don’t require treatment. But, in some cases, if the frequency is very often, then it might indicate some serious health issue or underlying condition.

What are the reasons for heart palpitations?

There are a variety of reasons for heart palpitations which might involve medications, strong emotions, and lifestyle factors. In certain cases, medical conditions affecting the heart are also there.

Here are some of the probable causes of heart palpitations:

Lifestyle triggers

The lifestyle factors which can cause heart palpitations are:

  • Rigorous exercise
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Regular smoking
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Nicotine from tobacco products
  • Dehydration

Emotional or psychological triggers

The emotional and psychological triggers behind heart palpitations are:

  • Shock
  • Panic attacks
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Drugs and medications

Some medications and drugs can also lead to heart palpitations:

  • Over-the-counter medications, including medications for colds and coughs, nutritional and nutritional supplements
  • Prescription medications like decongestants and asthma inhalers
  • Stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines

Heart conditions

Heart palpitations can indicate an underlying heart condition if you experience palpitations often. The heart conditions include:

  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Arrhythmia
  • Heart disease

Other conditions are also indicated by heart palpitations which include:

  • Sleep apnoea
  • Fever
  • Hormonal changes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Electrolyte anomalies
  • Blood loss
  • Low blood sugar levels

How to spot heart palpitations symptoms?

If you have heart palpitations and a diagnosed heart condition, make sure to seek medical attention right away. You must seek professional help if you have the following symptoms, even if you don’t have a diagnosed heart problem:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chest tightening
  • Pain in arms, chest, neck, jaw, and upper back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness

How to diagnose heart palpitations?

It can be very difficult for a doctor to diagnose heart palpitations. So, to start, your doctor might conduct a comprehensive physical evaluation and will ask questions such as:

  • Your stress levels
  • Health conditions
  • Use of medications and over-the-counter drugs
  • Supplements use
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep patterns
  • Menstrual history
  • Caffeine intake and stimulant use

If required, your doctor might refer you to a cardiologist so that he/she can order certain tests to confirm or rule out any heart issues. Here are the tests that might be ordered by a cardiologist:

  • Blood test- To check the hormonal and blood cell levels including electrolytes that can affect the heart rhythm
  • Urine test- To measures the levels of blood sugar, electrolyte, blood cell, and hormones
  • Stress test- It involves a heart study while there is an elevation in your heart rate by walking briskly on a treadmill or through medications that speed up the heart activity
  • Echocardiogram- It involves the sound waves to create your heart’s live and moving images
  • Electrocardiogram- It records the heart’s electrical activity
  • Chest X-ray- Assists the doctor to understand if your heart is enlarged

How are heart palpitations treated?

Heart palpitations rarely need treatment, unless the palpitations are caused by a heart condition. If you experience heart palpitations, then make sure to seek treatment, your doctor might suggest taking certain steps to avert the triggers causing palpitations. If palpitations are due to some heart condition such as arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat, treatment will emphasise correcting the condition. If your heart palpitations don’t have a medical cause, you can reduce the symptoms by:

Managing stress and anxiety- Make sure to include relaxation techniques in your weekly schedules. It will help in reducing the palpitations caused by stress or anxiety. Here are some relaxation techniques you can include:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Physical activity

Avoid stimulants- You should limit the consumption of caffeine intake. There are certain illegal drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine which are stimulants causing heart palpitations. Consult your cardiology doctor if any of your prescriptive medications contain stimulants.

Watch your diet- Low blood sugar increases the risk of heart palpitations. So, make sure to replace sugar and other simple carbs with complex ones to help in keeping your blood sugar levels even.

Change medications- If you think medications are causing palpitations, speak to your doctor about your substitutes. However, make sure not to stop taking medications without consulting your doctor.

Quit smoking- If you smoke regularly, then it can put you at a high risk of atrial fibrillation, so you must ensure quitting it as soon as possible.


Heart palpitations are one of the most common conditions these days. Usually, they aren’t harmful and don’t need immediate medical attention. However, in certain cases, they are an indication of a serious heart condition. It is important to consult your doctor if you have an underlying heart condition about your palpitations. If you aren’t certain about your heart condition, but your palpitations are increasing or occurring frequently, consult your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis. You can get in touch with a cardiologist expert in Kolkata at the BM Birla Heart Research Centre, the only cardiology hospital in the eastern region. We have a team of experienced and professional cardiologists and other healthcare team members who will ensure diagnosing the condition and recommending the heart palpitations treatment that’s suitable for you. 



Can stomach gas cause heart palpitations?

Yes, acid reflux can lead to causing air to become stuck in your oesophagus. It causes anxiety and causes a burst of heart palpitations.

How to stop heart palpitations immediately?

The best way to stop heart palpitations right away is through meditation, exercises, tai chi, relaxation exercises, and stress-busting activities. You can immediately start breathing exercises to relax.

How to reduce heart palpitations during pregnancy?

You can reduce the risk of heart palpitations during pregnancy by drinking plenty of water, reducing caffeine, quitting alcohol, etc. Make sure to do deep breathing exercises which will help you calm your mind and relax the body.

Are heart palpitations normal?

Yes, heart palpitations are usually normal and not a matter of concern, except in cases, if there are medical concerns behind them such as an arrhythmia.

How can the thyroid cause heart palpitations?

Excessive thyroid hormone causes the heart to beat fast and prompts unusual heart rhythms. One of the triggers is atrial fibrillation, a disorganised rhythm in the upper chamber of a heart. Hyperthyroidism causes several symptoms but one of the common symptoms is increased heart palpitations.

Are heart palpitations common?

Yes, heart palpitations are very common and not a sign of any serious illnesses, however, in certain cases, frequent palpitations can indicate a heart condition.