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A Racing Heart - Palpitation Explained

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A Racing Heart - Palpitation Explained

2 min read


Heart palpitation is the feeling of your heart pounding or beating too fast or fluttering. Learn about its possible causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

Written by

Dr. Isaac Gana

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At April 4, 2017
Reviewed AtOctober 18, 2022

In my day to day practice as a physician, I receive at least 11 patients each week complaining of their heart racing.

Some Data and Statistics

Last year, I recorded a rough estimate of 521 patients with this complaint. Amongst these patients, 87.3 % of them were young adults in the range of 16 to 29 years of age with only complaints of a racing heart, while 7 % had other accompanying symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, etc. In this group, patients of ages 16 to 29 had no issues with high blood pressure or risk of cardiovascular disease. The other 5.7 % were adult patients of 30 years and above, who presented with more than three complaints in addition to having a racing heart, and 43 % had a risk of cardiovascular diseases. A total of 303 patients went for different tests like echo, EKG (electrocardiogram), lipid profile test, Holter monitoring, chest x-ray, T3, and T4 panel test.

Out of the 303 patients that underwent different tests, seven patients had changes in their test results that could support evidence of an underlying cardiovascular disease, while 296 had normal test results without evidence of cardiovascular disease. 35 out of the 296 patients reported they use caffeine, one used crack cocaine, 103 sleep less than six hours in a day and 17 exercised at least three times a week. 274 had a significant reduction in symptoms after one to three months of lifestyle modification, that is exercising thrice a week, eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and deep breathing practices. Seven required the use of Valerian extract to help with sleep issues, while five were prescribed anti-arrhythmic drugs.

Racing Heart Facts

A racing heart is also known as 'palpitation.' This is when we have this sensation where our heart is pounding as if it will come out from the chest. At times this sensation spreads to the jaw, chest, and other parts of the body. Some people report this with other symptoms like chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.

Causes of Palpitations

Most of the time the cause is unknown, but certain factors increase the chance of palpitations. Some of these factors are as follows.

  1. Use of recreational drugs.
  2. Stress.
  3. Sleep deprivation.
  4. Smoking and drinking.
  5. Pregnancy.
  6. Heart disease (valve defects, atrial fibrillation).
  7. Medications for asthma.

Test to Diagnose Palpitations

1. Lipid profile: This will give measurements of your HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and cholesterol levels, to indicate if there is evidence of any coronary disease.

2. Holter monitor: It is a 24-hour test used to measure arrhythmias

3. ECHO (echocardiography): Helps to see if there are any structural problems.


  • Regular exercises help overall cardiovascular performance and reduce palpitations.

  • Yoga and deep breathing exercises help relieve stress, which can reduce palpitations.

  • Avoid use of substances like caffeine, smoking, and drinking, that can induce palpitations.

  • Always get adequate sleep, minimum of six to seven hours in a day.

  • Eat a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.

In conclusion, I discovered a majority of the patients that came to me with complaints of palpitations were young adults who do not exercise regularly, are under constant stress, or slept less than six hours a day, and used caffeine or other stimulants. These patients had no evidence of cardiovascular disease and experienced fewer palpitations after lifestyle modifications, with few required medications.

For more information consult a palpitations specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/cardiologist/palpitations

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Causes of Heart Palpitations?

The causes of heart palpitations are:
- Strong emotional responses, such as anxiety or stress.
- Strenuous exercise.
- Depression.
- Nicotine and caffeine.
- Hormone changes that happen during menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy.
- Fever.
- Excess or reduced levels of thyroid hormone.


How Do You Stop Heart Palpitations?

You can stop heart palpitations by the following methods.
- Reduce or eliminate stimulants.
- Exercise regularly.
- Perform relaxation techniques.
- Keep the electrolytes in a balanced manner.
- Stimulate the vagus nerve.
- Avoid alcohol use.
- Keep hydrated.


What Does a Heart Palpitation Feel Like?

Heart palpitations are heartbeats that become more prominent for a few seconds or minutes. It is seen as a fluttering, pounding, or irregular heartbeat. Sometimes you might be able to feel sensations in the neck or throat.


When Should I Worry About Heart Palpitations?

You need not worry about the heart palpitations if it occurs only for a few minutes. If it is seen for a long time, along with shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest pain, immediate medical attention is necessary.


Can Drinking Water Help With Heart Palpitations?

Yes, drinking water can help in reducing heart palpitations. You can also drink cold water for better results. Water can also help you feel relaxed.


Is It Normal to Have Heart Palpitations Every Day?

No, it is not normal to have heart palpitations every day. Frequent palpitations is an indicating sign of a cardiovascular disorder. Psychological problems like anxiety disorder can also be a cause.


Can Anxiety Cause Palpitations?

Yes, anxiety can cause palpitations, along with severe sweating and shivering. If it is constantly seen in an individual, then it can cause severe complications. It is necessary to consult your doctor for palpitations.


Does High Blood Pressure Cause Palpitations?

Yes, high blood pressure can cause palpitations. It can indicate conditions like high cholesterol. If you experience a pounding heartbeat and frequent palpitations, it is better to consult a doctor immediately.


Are Palpitations Normal?

The palpitations that occur during exercises and running could be normal. Stress can also stimulate palpitations in some situations. Apart from this, if you are experiencing heart palpitations due to a medical condition, then it is necessary for you to seek medical help.


How Do I Know if I Have Heart Problems or Anxiety?

If the palpitation is caused by an anxiety attack, then it is often seen with sharper chest pain. The pain remains more localized. If there is any heart problem, then the pain is known to radiate more, and it appears dull. An anxiety attack can be seen along with vomiting in some patients. There could be tightness in the chest, dizziness, shortness of breath, a pounding heartbeat, sweating, and even temporary paralysis or physical weakness in both the conditions.


Is There Any Medicine for Heart Palpitations?

There are a few medications that can help you to relieve palpitation caused by cardiac problems. It might include Atenolol, Metoprolol, and other beta-blockers. Calcium channel blockers are also known to be beneficial medications.


Are Heart Palpitations a Sign of a Heart Attack?

Yes, heart palpitations are a sign of a heart attack. It is most commonly seen in women. If heart palpitations occur due to a heart attack, it is often seen with certain discomfort or pain.


Do Heart Palpitations Go Away?

If heart palpitations are due to sudden stressful situations, then it might go away after a short period of time. These less frequent palpitations do not require medical treatment. But, if you are suspected of having any medical condition, then it is necessary to take proper treatment.


Why Do I Feel Dizziness and Palpitations?

Exercises, stress, running, and medical conditions can trigger palpitations and cause dizziness. They might be harmless in most cases. In some patients, it can be due to some heart conditions like arrhythmia.


Is It Good to Exercise With Heart Palpitations?

No, it is not good to exercise with heart palpitations. Palpitations are a sign of an overactive heart. It is necessary to stop doing your exercise workouts when you are having palpitations. You can also fix an appointment with a doctor using an online consultation platform like icliniq.com.


Can Lack of Sleep Cause Heart Palpitations?

Yes, lack of sleep can cause heart palpitations. Our nervous system plays a vital role in the functioning of the heart. If a person is deprived of sleep, then there would be an alteration in the system's functioning. People experience some form of stress if they do not rest. This might end up in palpitations.


How Many Heart Palpitations Are Normal?

The normal heartbeat is estimated to be from 72-100 beats per minute. When a person is staying in a calm manner or in a sitting position, then the heartbeat should not exceed 100. If the heartbeat is not maintained in this range, it could be a sign of a health condition.


Can Stomach Problems Cause Heart Palpitations?

Yes, stomach problems can cause heart palpitations. It is more obvious in conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease. Even minor indigestion can cause heart palpitations.


Should I Go to an ER for Heart Palpitations?

You should go to the ER only if you are experiencing heart palpitations along with other symptoms like dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and discomfort.


Can Reflux Feel Like Palpitations?

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, you might experience a certain degree of tightness in your chest. It is probably due to the trapping of air in the esophagus. It might cause a feeling of palpitation.


What Is the Difference Between Heart Palpitations and Arrhythmia?

Palpitations may be caused by physical activity, stress, caffeine, physical activity, or nicotine. In arrhythmia, there is an irregular beating of the heart, which is evidenced by the too slow or too fast beating of the heart.
Dr. Isaac Gana
Dr. Isaac Gana



chest paincardiovascular disease risklifestyle modificationholter monitor
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