What causes heart palpitations and what should I do about them?

Symptom Database

Heart palpitations can be a frightening experience, causing a person to feel as though their heart is racing or skipping beats. These sensations can be alarming, but in most cases, they are harmless and temporary. However, it is essential to understand the causes of heart palpitations, the symptoms they may present, and what steps can be taken to address them. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can lead to heart palpitations, discuss potential treatments and preventive measures, and provide natural remedies that may help alleviate these symptoms.

Causes of Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations can occur due to a variety of reasons, ranging from benign to more serious underlying conditions. Some common causes include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Physical exertion or exercise
  • Caffeine or nicotine consumption
  • Dehydration
  • Hormonal changes
  • Medication side effects
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Electrolyte imbalances

It is important to note that while heart palpitations are often harmless, they can also be a symptom of an underlying heart condition. If you experience frequent or severe palpitations, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Symptoms of Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations can manifest in different ways, and the symptoms may vary from person to person. Some common signs of heart palpitations include:

  • A racing or pounding heartbeat
  • A fluttering sensation in the chest
  • Skipped beats or irregular heart rhythms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest discomfort or pain

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to pay attention to their frequency, duration, and any accompanying factors. Keeping a record of your symptoms can help your healthcare provider in determining the cause and appropriate treatment.

Treatment for Heart Palpitations

The treatment for heart palpitations depends on the underlying cause and severity of the symptoms. In many cases, no specific treatment is required, and the palpitations will resolve on their own. However, if the palpitations are frequent, severe, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, medical intervention may be necessary.

Some potential treatment options for heart palpitations include:

  • Lifestyle modifications: Making changes such as reducing stress, avoiding triggers like caffeine or nicotine, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise can help manage palpitations.
  • Medication: In certain cases, medications may be prescribed to regulate heart rhythms or address underlying conditions contributing to palpitations.
  • Cardioversion: This procedure involves using electrical shocks to restore a normal heart rhythm in cases of severe palpitations.
  • Ablation: Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat or cold energy to destroy abnormal heart tissue causing palpitations.

It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific situation.

How to Prevent Heart Palpitations

While it may not always be possible to prevent heart palpitations entirely, certain measures can help reduce their frequency and intensity. Here are some tips for preventing heart palpitations:

  • Manage stress: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in activities you enjoy.
  • Avoid triggers: Identify and avoid substances or activities that tend to trigger palpitations, such as caffeine, nicotine, or intense physical exertion.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated to support overall heart health.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can contribute to heart palpitations, so it is advisable to consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Monitor medications: Some medications can cause palpitations as a side effect. If you notice palpitations after starting a new medication, consult your healthcare provider.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your daily routine, you may be able to reduce the frequency and severity of heart palpitations.

Natural Remedies for Heart Palpitations

In addition to lifestyle modifications, certain natural remedies may help alleviate heart palpitations. It is important to note that these remedies should not replace medical advice, but they can be used as complementary approaches. Some natural remedies to consider include:

  • Deep breathing exercises: Practicing deep, slow breaths can help calm the nervous system and regulate heart rhythms.
  • Herbal supplements: Certain herbs like valerian root, lemon balm, or hawthorn may have calming effects on the heart and help reduce palpitations.
  • Magnesium supplementation: Magnesium deficiency has been linked to heart palpitations, so ensuring adequate magnesium levels through diet or supplements may be beneficial.
  • Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese practice involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to promote balance and alleviate symptoms.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any natural remedies, especially if you have an underlying medical condition or are taking medications.


Heart palpitations can be a distressing experience, but in most cases, they are harmless and temporary. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and potential treatments for heart palpitations can help alleviate anxiety and provide reassurance. By making lifestyle modifications, seeking medical advice when necessary, and considering natural remedies under professional guidance, individuals can effectively manage heart palpitations and improve their overall heart health.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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