Irregular Heartbeat (Palpitations)

Heart palpitations may be due to an arrhythmia, an instance where your heart is beating irregularly or quickly. While some arrhythmias are benign, others are potentially dangerous and require medical attention.

Irregular Heartbeat (Palpitations)
Abnormal sensation of your heart beating irregularly or quickly.


The term palpitations is used to describe an abnormal sensation of your heart beating in your chest. This may feel like fluttering, your heart beating irregularly, quickly, having “skipped” beats, or feeling strong contractions. Other associated symptoms may be dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.

Causes & Risk Factors

Palpitations may be felt due to one of many arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, or may not be cardiovascular in origin. If you do have an arrhythmia, the causes and risk factors differ based on the type. For example, certain types are benign and may be a sign of an electrolyte imbalance.

Other more serious arrhythmias might be due to underlying structural heart disease, coronary artery disease, or a genetic predisposition. Certain underlying conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and thyroid disease can lead to a predisposition to certain arrhythmias.

Treatment & Prevention

Treatment options can vary depending on what, if any, specific arrhythmia is determined to be causing palpitations. Some individuals are able to control irregular heartbeats with lifestyle changes, others with medication, and rarely a medical procedure such as electric cardioversion or an ablation are necessary. In all cases, it’s important to make sure any underlying arrhythmias are addressed to avoid the risk of other serious conditions.

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