Palpitations

Heart palpitations are an uncomfortable awareness of the heart beating rapidly or irregularly. Palpitations can be caused by stress, fatigue, or overuse of alcohol or stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine, and they usually are not a serious problem.

Heart palpitations can feel like:

  • There is a pounding or fluttering in the chest.
  • The heart is doing a flip-flop.
  • The heart is skipping or missing a beat.
  • The heart is racing.
  • There is an extra heartbeat.
  • The heart is beating in the neck.

If palpitations persist or occur with fainting, near fainting, or lightheadedness, they may be a sign of a heart problem.

Last Updated: April 24, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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