Woman experiencing heart palpitations

Heart palpitations

What are heart palpitations?

Heart palpitations are the sensation of your heart beating. Most of the time we don’t notice our heartbeat, but during palpitations, we may feel the heart thumping, pounding, fluttering, racing, or missing beats.

Heart palpitations are incredibly common and rarely cause for concern. Most people will experience heart palpitations at multiple times throughout their lives.

What do heart palpitations feel like?

Heart palpitations can feel like:

In some cases, heart palpitations may be experienced along with other symptoms such as lightheadedness or chest pain.

What causes heart palpitations?

For most people, heart palpitations are harmless. Infrequent heart palpitations may be due to:

For some people, periodic awareness of just a regular, normal heartbeat can be part of their normal lives. For example, they may be aware of their heartbeat when they are drifting off to sleep, especially if they lie on their left side.

In rare cases, where the palpitations are more frequent and/or are experienced alongside other symptoms, this may be a sign of a heart condition such as a heart arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm).

How are heart palpitations diagnosed?

Your GP will likely start by asking how often the heart palpitations are occurring, how long they last for, if there are other symptoms present, and whether there is any family history of heart conditions. They may also listen to your heart with a stethoscope.

If further testing is required, this may include:

How are heart palpitations treated?

Heart palpitations will only require treatment if they are caused by an underlying condition, such as heart disease and arrhythmias.

In most cases, having occasional and brief heart palpitations is nothing to worry about and will not require treatment.

How can heart palpitations be prevented?

Heart palpitations may be avoided by managing triggers. This may include:

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years