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A Racing Heart - Palpitation Explained

Written by
Dr. Isaac Gana
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Apr 04, 2017 and last reviewed on Feb 03, 2020   -  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.

A Racing Heart - Palpitation Explained

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.


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 -->


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Last reviewed at:
03 Feb 2020  -  2 min read


Dr. Isaac Gana

Dr. Isaac Gana

Cardiology Speciality

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