Feeling like your heart is racing, pounding or skipping beats
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Heart palpitations often are triggered by stress, exercise or medications, and the sensations can be mild or quite uncomfortable. They are usually not harmful, and the only treatment required may be lifestyle modifications or medication to relieve symptoms.
Occasionally, heart palpitations may be a sign of a more serious abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. If you experience frequent, sustained heart palpitations, chest pain or fainting, have your heart evaluated by an electrophysiologist, a heart rhythm specialist who diagnoses and treats arrhythmias.
The physicians in our Cardiac Electrophysiology Program are highly trained advanced subspecialists who manage even the most complex arrhythmias.
What causes heart palpitations?
Some common causes of heart palpitations include:
- Alcohol and caffeine
- Emotions such as stress, anxiety or fear
- Hormonal changes related to menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
- Medications that contain stimulants, such as cough and cold drugs with pseudoephedrine
- Sleep deprivation or sleep apnea
Examples of more serious arrhythmias that may cause palpitations include:
Diagnosing the cause of your heart palpitations is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.
An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.
A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.
Heart palpitations rarely require treatment, although your doctor may recommend ways to avoid triggering them, medication or cardiac ablation. If your palpitations are caused by an arrhythmia, you may need treatment for the specific condition.