Try These Tips To Stop Heart Palpitations:
- Splash cold water on your face, which stimulates a nerve that manages your heart rate.
- Breathe deeply to help your body relax.
- Vigorously move to stop palpitations through exercise.
- Reduce anxiety in whatever way works best for your unique needs.
- Close your eyes, then use your hands to gently press on your eyeballs.
- Try the Valsalva maneuver: pinch your nostrils closed, then try to blow air through the nose with the nostrils sealed.
- Drink water if the palpitations are associated with dehydration.
- Restore electrolyte balance by eating foods high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sodium.
When To Seek Care
If you are having palpitations frequently or youre finding that the they last a long time, you should speak with a physician. They will run a few tests to better understand your hearts health and get ahead of any conditions before they worsen.
If you experience palpitations with other heart symptoms, such as chest pain, unusual sweating, shortness of breath or tightness in your chest, loss of consciousness or dizziness, dont delay. Call 911 or go to an emergency room near you to be evaluated.
Want to learn more about your heart health? Take our free heart health risk assessment to learn more about your risk for heart disease and ways to reduce that risk.
Your heart never stops working for you. Take care of your heart and it will take care of you. Check out these other helpful articles written with Banner Health experts.
Palpitations Of The Heart
Palpitations are a sensation or awareness of your heart beating. They may feel like your heart is racing, thumping or skipping beats. Almost everyone has had palpitations at some time in their life. They are usually associated with an abnormal heart rhythm .
Palpitations may have no obvious cause, but can be triggered by:
- physical activity
- illicit substances.
An occasional palpitation that does not affect your general health is not usually something to worry about. However, see your doctor if you have more frequent or consistent palpitations, which may be associated with a serious arrhythmia.
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First What Are Heart Palpitations Exactly
Generally when we talk about palpitations, it means youre aware of your heart beating, and it feels like its not normal, Shephal Doshi, M.D., director of cardiac electrophysiology at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF.
If you ask four people with heart palpitations to describe them, you might get four varying answers. When people say, I have heart palpitations, they can mean so many different things that you have to tease out some details as to what exactly they feel, Sanjiv Patel, M.D., cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells SELF.
People often mistake normal heart activity for heart palpitations too. Some people are very attuned to their bodies, feel their hearts beating faster and think its a palpitation, but its still beating at a normal speed of up to 100 beats a minute, Dr. Patel says. Which is all to say that the symptoms of heart palpitations arent cut and dry.
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Still not sure when to worry about heart palpitations or what could be causing them?
As an abnormal heart rhythm specialist, Dr. Andrea Tordini helps patients in Tampa, Florida, relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Dr. Tordini specializes in the management of abnormal heart rhythms. Her areas of expertise include: atrial fibrillation ablation and management, evaluation and management of syncope and symptoms related to slow heart rhythms, pacemaker and cardiac defibrillator implantation, as well as the management of heart failure through cardiac resynchronization therapy.
Dr. Andrea Tordini focuses on providing her patients with optimal, personalized care in order to relieve symptoms related to heart rhythm abnormalities, and improve the quality and longevity of life.
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At The Doctors Office
Your doctor will:
- Give you a physical exam
- Take down your medical history
- Want to know about your current medications, diet, and lifestyle
- Ask for specifics about when, how often, and under what circumstances your palpitations occur
Sometimes, a blood test can help your doctor find the cause of your palpitations. Other useful tests include:
Electrocardiogram: This can be done while youâre at rest or exercising. The latter is called a stress EKG. In both cases, the test records your heart’s electrical signals and can find unusual heart rhythms.
Holter monitoring: Youâll wear a monitor on your chest. It continuously records your heart’s electrical signals for 24 to 48 hours. It can identify rhythm differences that weren’t picked up during an EKG.
Event recording: Youâll wear a device on your chest and use a handheld gadget to record your heart’s electrical signals when symptoms occur.
Chest X-ray: Your doctor will check for changes in your lungs that could come from heart problems. For example, if they find fluid in your lungs, it may come from heart failure.
Echocardiogram: This is an ultrasound of your heart. It provides detailed information about its structure and function.
If necessary, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist for more tests or treatment.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
If you have never had heart palpitations before, see your provider.
- Loss of alertness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- You often feel extra heartbeats .
- You have risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
- You have new or different heart palpitations.
- Your pulse is more than 100 beats per minute .
- You have related symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling faint, or loss of consciousness.
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What Do Heart Palpitations Feel Like
Heart palpitations produce a sensation where it feels like the heart is fluttering, pounding, or skipping beats. Many people are scared when they feel heart palpitations. The good news is that most causes of heart palpitations are not serious and do not need treatment. If you know what causes heart palpitations, it may ease your mind when you feel them. However, some causes of heart palpitations are serious so you should learn when to be concerned about heart palpitations and when to see a doctor.
What Should I Do If I Have Palpitations
Occasionally, palpitations can be serious. In the following situations, you should call an ambulance:
- If you have palpitations that do not go away quickly .
- If you have any chest pain with palpitations.
- If you have severe breathlessness with palpitations.
- If you pass out, or feel as if you are going to pass out, or feel dizzy.
- If you have palpitations and have had heart problems in the past.
- If you have palpitations which began as you were exercising.
If the palpitations do not make you feel unwell, and settle on their own, you should see your GP. Keep a diary of when they happen and how long they last, as this information will help your GP.
If you have an episode of palpitations it can be useful to check your pulse. In particular it may be useful for your doctor to know how fast your pulse was during the episode. That is, how many beats per minute also, if your pulse felt regular or irregular. This information can help identify the cause of the palpitations. Your practice nurse can show you how to take your own pulse. Or you can follow the steps shown on the British Heart Foundation website, given in ‘Further reading & references’ at the end of this leaflet.
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Can Heart Palpitations Be Prevented Or Avoided
Heart palpitations cannot always be prevented or avoided. Here are some things you can do that may help prevent or avoid heart palpitations:
- Do not use illegal street drugs, such as cocaine.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Tell your doctor what medicines and herbal supplements you take.
- Tell your doctor how much alcohol you drink and if you use anything else that might cause palpitations.
- Keep track of your palpitations. Write down the time that they happen and what you were doing when they began. Give this information to your doctor. He or she may be able to use this information to determine what is causing your heart palpitations.
Evaluating Your Heart Palpitations
If you suspect youre suffering from anxiety, the good news is that the accompanying heart palpitations may feel awful, but they arent usually medically serious. In most cases, the heart palpitations subside as you de-stress and your body and mind relax.
If this doesnt occur and youre unsure whether your heart palpitations are related to anxiety or a more serious issue with your hearts rhythm, we urge you to come see us. Well get to the bottom of the issue.
To determine whether theres a functional problem with your heart, we perform certain diagnostic tests at our office, including:
- An electrocardiogram to evaluate electrical function
- An echocardiogram to check the structures of your heart
We can also outfit you with a portable monitor to measure your hearts function throughout the day as you engage in normal activities.
If we find that your heart function is normal, anxiety is the likely culprit behind your heart palpitations. But theres good news: If we detect a problem, were able to act quickly to resolve it.
Again, if youre having trouble with persistent heart palpitations, we urge you to err on the side of caution and come see us. To get started, contact our office in Little Rock, Arkansas, to set up an appointment.
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Sign: Youre Getting Older
Like many conditions, palpitations may be more common, and more serious, in older people. Another common problem that occurs with age is the wearing out of the normal heart electrical system, Dr. Hodgson-Zingman says. This can cause pauses or irregularity in the heart rhythm and may be a sign that you need a pacemaker. Also, some types of heart rhythm disorders are more common as you age. Atrial fibrillation occurs in like 20 percent of people over the age of 80, and its increasingly common as we get older, Dr. Zeitler says. According to the CDC, 9 percent of people over 65 have it.
Heart Palpitations: Frequently Asked Questions
The symptoms of palpitations vary from patient to patient with some common features.
A perception of irregularity of the pulse, an uneasiness in the chest, a flip-flopping in the chest frequently people describe their palpitations as “my heart stops.” Certainly a feeling of strong pulse throughout the chest, head, and neck could well be described as a palpitation.
Occasionally palpitations can be perceived in unusual ways including a general sense of uneasiness, and, rarely, palpitations are associated with lightheadedness or even loss of consciousness.
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Are Premature Ventricular Contractions Life Threatening
If someone has normal heart function and no evidence of structural heart disease, the PVCs are a nuisance, but benign. If the PVCs are so symptomatic as to be disruptive, try eliminating all of the factors such as caffeine, certain foods, stress, before considering any treatment with medications. When we do treat with medications, we usually try to use simple medications such as beta-blockers first before going on to specific anti-arrhythmic agents. Very frequently, this is enough to improve patients’ symptoms.
Why Do I Get Heart Palpitations After Eating
Heart palpitations can be frightening. In some instances, they may be a sign of a serious heart-related medical issue, which is why its common to be alarmed when you experience them. However, heart palpitations are often relatively benign and shouldnt necessarily be a cause for concern. This is often true when they occur after eating.
Its common to feel like your heart is beating too rapidly or irregularly when you experience palpitations. While the actual symptoms differ for everyone, heart palpitations typically result in:
- A feeling like your heart is skipping a beat
- A pounding or throbbing sensation that feels like your heart is beating too hard
- A fluttering sensation in your chest
- A racing heartbeat
Keep in mind that there are many potential causes of heart palpitations and when they occur after eating, its likely that they may be associated with your diet. Paying attention to what you eat can help you identify the potential cause of your palpitations.
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What Are Heart Palpitations
That odd sensation in the middle of your chest can be alarming, but often its just a misfire in your heart rhythm. A series of electrical impulses keep your heart pumping when one of the impulses is mistimed, youll feel palpitations in your chest. Most of the time its nothing, but they can be a sign of something dangerous. There are numerous types of heart rhythm disorders, says Denice Hodgson-Zingman, MD, a cardiologist and associate professor of internal medicine with University of Iowa Health Care. Some of them make the heart beat irregularly, and this can be perceived as a sensation of flip-flops,’ she says.
Interesting Heart Palpitations Causes And Treatment For A Case Of The Heart Flutters
Does your heart unexpectedly start to race or pound, or feel like it keeps skipping beats? These sensations are called heart palpitations. For most people, heart palpitations are a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. Others have dozens of these heart flutters a day, sometimes so strong that they feel like a heart attack.
Most palpitations are caused by a harmless hiccup in the heart’s rhythm. A few reflect a problem in the heart or elsewhere in the body.
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Heres When You Should Talk To A Doctor About Heart Palpitations
If youre wondering when to worry about heart palpitations, remember that most of the time, theyre NBD. One-off heart palpitations that just last a few seconds are a normal part of having a heart. That said, experiencing them regularly is not. If heart palpitations happen every time you do , like walk half a mile or lift something, thats not a random event and you should be evaluated, Dr. Patel says.
There are a few signs and risk factors to be aware of, though, as they might suggest your hearts functioning has been compromised. Per the NHLBI and the Mayo Clinic, if your heart palpitations come along with any of the following, you should seek medical attention:
- A medical history of health conditions involving your heart, such as heart disease
That warrants further investigating to make sure its nothing dangerous, Dr. Doshi says.
With that said, if your heart palpitations are random, dont come with other symptoms, and youre in great health, they might still feel too weird to ignore. Theres nothing wrong with seeing your doctor just to be on the safe side if you can do so safely right now. They can test your heart to make sure its working as it should so you can skip worrying about your health the next time your heart skips a beat.
Anxiety Stimulants And Gender Also Affect Your Heart Beat
Some groups of people are at higher risk than others. Women who are menstruating, perimenopausal or pregnant may have a higher risk of experiencing heart palpitations because of hormonal changes.
Other groups at higher risk include people who:
- Experience regular panic or anxiety attacks.
- Take medications like thyroid pills or stimulants like caffeine and diet pills.
- Have an existing medical condition such as an overactive thyroid or a heart condition.
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Sign: You Often Have Palpitations
Depending on the exact causes, some patients may have symptoms infrequently, while others may have several continuous episodes a day, sometimes with each episode lasting for several minutes at a time, Dr. Lau says. Chances are, if palpitations are only occurring rarely, you dont need to rush to the doctor. Less serious causes for palpitations can include stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol, illness, or pregnancy, he says. Check out 45 things heart doctors do to protect their own hearts.
Capturing Heart Palpitations In Action
If you are at risk for a heart rhythm problem, or if palpitations are interfering with your life or mental health, a recording of your heart’s rhythm for 24 hours or even longer may capture an electrical “signature” of the problem. Getting visual evidence of this signature can help determine how best to treat your palpitations.
A Holter monitor constantly records your heart’s rhythm for 24 hours as you go about your daily activities. Small patches called electrodes are stuck onto your chest and attached to a recorder that you carry in a pocket or wear around your neck or waist. During the test, you keep a diary of what you are doing and how you feel, along with the time of day of each entry. When you return the monitor to your doctor, he or she will look at the recording to see if there have been any irregular heart rhythms.
Twenty-four hours often isn’t long enough to detect palpitations. An event recorder can monitor the heart for days or weeks. There’s even an implantable recorder that can invisibly monitor the heart for a year or more.
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Can Something I Eat Or Drink Cause Heart Palpitations
A common substance associated with palpitations is caffeine. Some people are sensitive to any amount of stimulant, but we began to see more caffeine-related palpitations when espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes became popular in the 1990s. Frequently reducing or eliminating beverages that contain caffeine such as coffee or soda can improve palpitations.
Some patients complain of palpitations when they eat too much chocolate, and some patients respond with palpitations around the holiday when they tend to drink too much alcohol.
Some over-the-counter medications such as cold and allergy remedies that contain decongestants often can precipitate palpitations.
Frequently, palpitations occur without any obvious precipitating factor, although fatigue, stress, and lack of sleep also cause palpitations to occur or worsen.