What are Palpitations?

Palpitations refers to the feeling that your heart beat is hard, fast or irregular. Some people describe it as "pounding" or "skipped beats". Most palpitations are not life-threatening and their cause is not serious.

However, It’s best to check with your doctor if you experience palpitations in order to rule out underlying heart disease or serious rhythm disorder.

GET PROMPT MEDICAL ATTENTION if any of the following occur together with palpitations:

  • Weakness, dizziness, light-headed or fainting
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate (over 120 beats per minute, at rest)
  • Palpitations that lasts over 20 minutes
  • Weakness of an arm or leg or one side of the face
  • Difficulty with speech or vision

What causes palpitations?

Non-heart-related causes include:

  • 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 and PCP)
  • Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco
  • Medical conditions such as thyroid disease, anemia, anxiety and panic disorder

Heart-related causes include:

  • Arrhythmia (a change in the heart's normal rhythm)
  • Heart valve disease

Sometimes the cause of palpitations cannot be determined.

How are palpitations treated?

Basis lifestyle changes you can adapt include:

  • Avoiding excess caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and any stimulant drugs
  • Getting more sleep
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Stress management, massage or any other activity to help you relax

If your palpitations are due to an arrhythmia, you may be prescribed medication.