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Heart Palpitations

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What Are Heart Palpitations?

Heart palpitations are a feeling of fluttering or pounding in your chest or a rapid heartbeat.

Often, heart palpitations harmless. But on occasion, they're a symptom of a more serious heart condition.

Causes of heart palpitations

Common causes of palpitations include:

  • Anxiety, stress, or fear
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Intense exercise
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • Some medications

More serious causes of heart palpitations include:

Heart palpitation risk factors

You're at a higher risk of having heart palpitations if you have:

  • Heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.
  • A heart valve defect.
  • An electrolyte imbalance, such as low potassium.

Heart Palpitation Symptoms and Diagnosis

Heart palpitation symptoms

A palpitation feels like:

  • A fluttering or pounding in your chest.
  • Your heart skips a beat.
  • Your heart is beating too fast.

You may feel palpitations in your throat, neck, or chest.

Symptoms may occur when you're active or at rest.

In most cases, heart palpitations don't happen often and last only a few seconds.

Diagnosing heart palpitations

Most heart palpitations aren't a serious problem. If they become more frequent or worsen, you should talk to your doctor.

Your doctor will order tests to look for an underlying heart condition that's causing the palpitations.

Some tests and imaging scans you may have include:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Heart monitors to track your heart activity over a few days

You should get medical attention right away if you have heart palpitations along with:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Unusual sweating

The Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers cutting-edge testing and treatment for people with irregular heart rates.

Our experts can diagnose heart palpitations and treat the underlying cause.

Heart Palpitation Treatment

Most heart palpitations aren't serious and don't require treatment.

To limit them, you can look for ways to avoid triggers, such as:

  • Controlling stress and anxiety.
  • Changing medications.
  • Avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine.

If a more serious heart problem is causing your heart palpitations, your doctor will design a treatment plan for that condition.

Experts at the UPMC Cardiac Electrophysiology Program offer cutting-edge testing and treatment for people with heart palpitations.

heart palpitation, a feeling of fluttering or pounding in your chest, is often harmless. Stress, hormones, or even medicine can cause heart palpitations.

However, they sometimes can be a sign of a more serious heart problem.