Skip to main content

Heart Palpitations


Heart palpitations

are feelings that your heart races, jumps, throbs, or flutters. You may feel extra beats, no beats for a short time, or skipped beats. You may have these feelings in your chest, throat, or neck. They may happen when you are sitting, standing, or lying. Heart palpitations may be frightening, but are usually not caused by a serious problem.

Call 911 or have someone else call for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You faint or lose consciousness.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your palpitations happen more often or last longer than usual.
  • You have palpitations and shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, or dizziness.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to follow up with a cardiologist. You may need tests to check for heart problems that cause palpitations. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Treatment for heart palpitations

is usually not needed. Your healthcare provider may stop or change your medicines if they are causing your palpitations. Conditions that cause palpitations, such as an abnormal heartbeat, will be treated.

Keep a record:

Write down when your palpitations start and stop, what you were doing when they started, and your symptoms. Keep track of what you ate or drank within a few hours of your palpitations. Include anything that seemed to help your symptoms, such as lying down or holding your breath. This record will help you and your healthcare provider learn what triggers your palpitations. Bring this record with you to your follow up visits.

Help prevent heart palpitations:

  • Manage stress and anxiety. Find ways to relax such as listening to music, meditating, or doing yoga. Exercise can also help decrease stress and anxiety. Talk to someone you trust about your stress or anxiety. You can also talk to a therapist.
  • Get plenty of sleep every night. Ask your healthcare provider how much sleep you need each night.
  • Do not drink caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can make your palpitations worse. Caffeine is found in soda, coffee, tea, chocolate, and drinks that increase your energy.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars may damage your heart and blood vessels. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not use illegal drugs. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use illegal drugs and want help to quit.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Heart Palpitations (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Mayo Clinic Reference Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.