Do you ever have the feeling that your heart is rushing, beating too fast or skipping beats? If so, you may have experienced heart palpitations.
A healthy adult heart beats an average of 60 to 100 times every minute. We count on that steady beat to keep our blood flowing to carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our bodies.
People who exercise regularly or take medications to lower their heart rate may have a slower normal heart rate. Being frightened or excited may cause your heart to speed up.
Regardless of how fast your heartbeat is, a normal heartbeat keeps a study rhythm. An irregular heartbeat occurs when the heart misses beats or adds extra beats that throw off the rhythm.
Heart palpitations cause an unusual pounding sensation in your chest or neck. This can happen whether your heartbeat is steady or irregular.
Heart palpitations are usually not serious. Some causes include:
• Stress or fear including panic attacks and anxiety
• Excess caffeine
• Tobacco use
• Diet pills, prescription medications and illegal drugs
• Hormone changes or imbalances
• Herbal and nutritional supplements
• Electrolyte imbalance
Palpitations resulting from an irregular heartbeat may be caused by a more serious condition including:
• Heart disease
• Heart valve abnormalities
• Too much or too little potassium in the blood
• Some medications including some for asthma, high blood pressure, and heart conditions
• Thyroid issues
• Too little oxygen in the blood
Call 911 or get emergency help if you experience these symptoms along with palpitations:
• Passing out
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Unusual sweating
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
If you have never had heart palpitations before, talk to your doctor to find out what could be causing the condition. If you are otherwise healthy, you may be able to avoid palpitations by reducing stress, cutting down on caffeine or making other appropriate lifestyle changes.
Medline Plus. Heart palpitations. Web. February 13, 2013.
Mayo Clinic. Heart palpitations. Web. February 13, 2013.
WebMD. Heart Palpitations. Web. February 13, 2013.
Reviewed February 13, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith