Are Heart Palpitations Normal?

Couple running

July 01, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Mark Anderson, M.D.
Kanika Mody, M.D.

Updated: 01/27/2022

Are heart palpitations normal? The answer depends on several factors, including how often palpitations occur and if they disrupt your day-to-day activities.

A flip-flopping feeling in your chest comes and goes. Your heart seems to skip a beat, thump hard or flutter fast. You may already know these sensations are due to heart palpitations—but are they normal?

The answer depends on several factors, including how often palpitations occur and if they disrupt your day-to-day activities, according to heart specialists at Hackensack University Medical Center.

“Palpitations can be normal or not normal, but the bottom line is they shouldn’t be ignored,” says cardiothoracic surgeon Mark Anderson, M.D. “Most of the time palpitations aren’t serious, but they can be.”

What Causes Heart Palpitations?

Triggers for heart palpitations include:

  • Stress
  • Exercise or overexertion
  • Caffeine, tobacco, diet pills or other stimulants
  • Various medications such as thyroid pills, asthma drugs or cold remedies
  • Hormone changes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart or valve abnormalities

In short, the causes of heart palpitations can range from inconsequential to serious, says heart failure and transplant specialist Kanika Mody, M.D.

“Palpitations are a very common experience. If you surveyed 100 people, about 90 of them would have reported heart palpitations over the last few months,” Dr. Mody explains. “Women tend to have more heart palpitations than men, unquestionably linked to hormonal changes they experience.”

When to Seek Care for Heart Palpitations

While heart palpitations don’t usually signal a dangerous problem, Drs. Mody and Anderson advise seeking medical advice if you experience them often.

“Fleeting palpitations aren’t typically worrisome, but if there’s a pattern to it or it’s disturbing your daily lifestyle, it’s time to see a doctor,” Dr. Mody says.

To trace the cause of palpitations:

  • Your doctor will likely ask a series of questions.
  • They may also draw blood to check thyroid and hormone levels.
  • They might connect you to a portable heart monitor to evaluate heart rhythm over time.
  • They might perform an echocardiogram to look for structural abnormalities in your heart muscle or valves.

If no other cause for palpitations emerges, you may be referred to an electrophysiologist, a cardiac specialist who tests and treats heart rhythm problems. But behavior changes are typically recommended if nothing dire is found, Dr. Mody says.

“You’ll likely be told to limit stress and caffeine intake along with practicing good sleep hygiene,” she says. “Most patients with palpitations are in an age group where there’s always a risk of heart disease developing, so they’ll be monitored for that, as well.”

Next Steps & Resources:


The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

Share

HealthU

eNewsLetter Sign Up to receive the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic

6 Ways to Lower Your Heart Rate

If your heart is racing as you’re sitting reading this article, it’s possible your body is trying to tell you something. 

Can Heart Failure Be Reversed?

Heart failure is one of the top killers in the U.S. While the disease can be severe and life-limiting, it doesn’t always get worse and can even be reversed.

Take a Daily Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in October 2021 released updated recommendations for preventative aspirin use: Adults over the age of 60 should no longer consider taking a daily aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. 

Knowing When (and How) to Check Your Heart Rate

Like a car's check-engine light, your vital signs can alert you when it's time to call an expert.

Is it a Heart Attack? Watch for These Less Common Signs

You may know chest pain, tightness and pressure are classic clues of a heart attack, but a wide range of equally concerning symptoms don’t fall under these “textbook” heart attack signs,

Is an Irregular Heartbeat Normal?

Most children diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat are found to have conditions that are normal and harmless.

X
We use cookies to improve your site experience. By using this site,
you agree to our Terms & Conditions. Also, please read our Privacy Policy.
Accept All Cookies