What are palpitations?

Palpitations are heartbeats that feel either too fast or too hard, and sometimes they can feel like your heart is skipping a beat. These are felt in your chest, throat or neck. Often these are not harmful and can result from stress, caffeine, nicotine or anxiety. Pregnancy can also cause heart palpitations at times. Sometimes, heart palpitations can indicate more serious heart conditions, particularly if they happen frequently. If palpitations are experienced alongside dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath, seek medical attention.


Heart palpitations are usually not severe, but if they occur frequently, a medical examination will be needed to rule out underlying heart problems, such as arrhythmia.

Symptoms of heart palpitations

Heart palpitations can feel unpleasant and feel as though the heart is beating too strong and too fast. If palpitations are experienced alongside dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath, seek medical attention.

How are palpitations diagnosed?

To rule out possible underlying heart conditions, you may need an ECG, a blood pressure test or an echocardiogram.

What are the causes of heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are usually a result of anxiety, stress or panic attacks; caffeine intake or nicotine; consumption of illegal drugs; exercise and fever, among others. In addition, there are conditions that can increase the probability of having an abnormal heart rhythm, such as:

  • Previous heart disease (arrhythmias)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Abnormal heart valve
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Significant risk factors for heart disease
  • Anaemia
  • Electrolyte blood abnormality

Can heart palpitations be prevented?

It is possible to prevent palpitations by doing the following:

  • Regular moderate exercise
  • Avoid anxiety and stress
  • Treat underlying diseases
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and coffee

Treatments for heart palpitations

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the palpitations. If it caused by anxiety or stress, then these can be managed better. If they are caused by a stimulant, then these can be avoided. If there is an underlying heart condition, then this will have to be treated accordingly.

What specialist treats heart palpitations?

Cardiologists would diagnose and treat heart palpitations.

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