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Palpitations: Introduction

Palpitations are a sensation in the chest that is described in a number of ways. These include feeling a rapid heartbeat, a pounding in the chest, a fluttering of the heart, being conscious of the beating of the heart, or feeling missed or skipped beats of the heart.

Palpitations can be a symptom of a variety of mild to serious disorders, diseases or conditions. Palpitations can result from drugs use, infection, cardiac arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, trauma, and other abnormal processes.

Palpitations can occur in any age group or population. Palpitations are often associated with heart disease, but they can also occur with a wide variety of other diseases, disorders and conditions. For example, palpitations are commonly the result of the use of certain street drugs, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Palpitations can also result from a relatively mild to moderate condition that is relatively easy to resolve, such as drinking too much coffee or an anxiety attack. Palpitations can also be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition, such as cardiac arrhythmia. Palpitations are commonly associated with a cardiac conditions, but any condition or disease that causes a rapid heart rate (tachycardia) can result in palpitations. These can include conditions of the respiratory system, the circulatory system, and the gastrointestinal system. For more details about causes, see causes of palpitations.

Depending on the cause, palpitations can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when palpitations occurs during an anxiety attack. Palpitations can also occur in sudden, severe episodes, such as palpitations that happens with a cardiac arrhythmia called supraventricular tachycardia. Palpitations can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when it is due to a cardiac arrhythmia called chronic atrial fibrillation.

Palpitations often occur in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include irregular pulse, chest pain, chest pressure, shortness of breath, cough, fever, abnormal vital signs, rapid breathing (tachypnea) and labored breathing (dyspnea). Dizziness, anxiety, restlessness and paranoia can also occur.

Complications of some underlying causes of palpitations can be life-threatening and include low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels in the body, sepsis, shock, life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest and death.

Diagnosing palpitations and their root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination.

Depending on the suspected cause of palpitations, blood tests may include a complete blood count, which can reveal in infectious process, and cardiac assays, which can reveal a cardiac condition. Blood and urine drug screens can determine if there are any drugs in the body that may be the cause of palpitations.

An EKG and chest X-ray are also performed if the cause of palpitations is suspected to be due to heart disease or a respiratory disease. Continuous cardiac monitoring is also done to watch for cardiac arrhythmias, which are a common cause of palpitations.

An exam also includes listening with a stethoscope to the sounds that the heart and lungs make. Certain types of heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, point to some underlying causes of palpitations, such as mitral valve prolapse. Certain lung sounds point to some underlying causes of palpitations. For example, a bubbling sound may point to congestive heart failure.

Other important tests include a noninvasive test called a pulse oximetry is generally performed. This involves clipping a painless device to the fingertip, which can measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Depending on the suspected cause of palpitations, other tests can include additional blood tests, culture and sensitivity tests, pulmonary function test, and imaging tests, such as CT scan, nuclear scans, and MRI.

A diagnosis of palpitations and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because palpitations may be mild or vague and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of palpitations.

Treatment of palpitations involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing them. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of palpitations....more »

Palpitations: The term "palpitations" loosely means any time a person can sense their own heartbeat, and believes it to be unusual or abnormal. Thus, palpitations may be used by patients to describe racing heartbeat, rapid heart beat, slow heart beat,...more »

Palpitations: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing palpitations and their underlying cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, palpitations may not be severe enough or last long enough for a person to seek medical care. Palpitations can be a sign of a serious, even life-threatening condition and should be evaluated immediately. ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Palpitations:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Palpitations. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Palpitations: Causes | Symptom Checker » | Assessment Questionnaire »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Palpitations

Home medical tests possibly related to Palpitations:

Causes of Types of Palpitations:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Palpitations:

Review causes of types of Palpitations in more specific categories:

Review causes of more specific types of Palpitations:

Palpitations: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Palpitations, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Palpitations Treatments

Treatment plans for palpitations are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, eases the discomfort of palpitations, decreases the risk of developing serious complications, and helps a person to rest comfortably ...Palpitations Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Palpitations may include:

Review further information on Palpitations Treatments.

Stories from Users for Palpitations

Real-life user stories relating to Palpitations:

Message Boards for Palpitations

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Palpitations or relevant symptoms:

Diagnostic tests for Palpitations:

Various tests are used in the diagnosis of Palpitations. Some of these are listed below :

  • Physical examination
    • Note pulse rate, rhythm and regularity. If rate is over 150 beats per minute may suggest paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia. If rate is less than 150 beats per minute it is more likely to be sinus tachycardia which can be associated with exercise, fever, drugs or hyperthyroidism
    • Temperature (if fever is present with enlarged heart and heart murmur must consider bacterial endocarditis; fever itself may cause tachycardia)
    • Blood pressure. If blood pressure is high may suggest phaeochromocytoma or hyperthyroidism
    • Cardiovascular examination - looking for enlarged heart (may suggest congestive cardiac failure, valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, hypothyroidism), heart murmur (may suggest valvular heart disease e.g. acute or chronic rheumatic fever or bacterial endocarditis ).
    • Look for signs of hyperthyroidism including agitation, restlessness, enlarged thyroid (goiter), warm and sweaty palms, fine tremor, protruding eyes
  • Blood tests
  • more tests...»

Palpitations: Animations

Medications or substances causing Palpitations:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Palpitations as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Palpitations:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Palpitations as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Dymelor and alcohol interaction
  • Diabinese and alcohol interaction
  • Amaryl and alcohol interaction
  • Glucotrol and alcohol interaction
  • Glucotrol XL and alcohol interaction
  • DiaBeta and alcohol interaction
  • Glynase PresTab and alcohol interaction
  • Micronase and alcohol interaction
  • more interactions...»

Palpitations: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Palpitations may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Palpitations

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Palpitations:

Assessment Questionnaire: Questions your doctor may ask (and why!)

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Palpitations. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist here.

See Palpitations Assessment Questionnaire (26 listings)

Palpitations: Deaths

Read more about causes and Palpitations deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Palpitations

Heart attacks can be undiagnosed: Although the most severe symptoms of heart attack are hard to miss, there are varying degrees of severity. It is altogether too common for people to die from undiagnosed heart attack, more »

Heart attacks can be overdiagnosed: Although many people die from heart attacks, there are also many cases where people fear that they have a heart attack, but actually have something milder. more »

Rare heart condition often undiagnosed: The rare heart condition called long QT syndrome can lead to episodes of palpitations and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, more »

Heart attack can be over-diagnosed: Although heart attack is often undiagnosed, leading to fatality, it can also be over-diagnosed. People become concerned more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure more »

Hypertension misdiagnosis common in children: Hypertension is often misdiagnosed in adults (see misdiagnosis of hypertension), but its misdiagnosis is even more likely in children. Some of the symptoms of hypertension that can be overlooked include more »

Palpitations: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Palpitations

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Palpitations:

Palpitations: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Palpitations: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Palpitations listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Palpitations as a symptom include:

Article Excerpts about Palpitations

"Extra" heartbeats, also called palpitations, or premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) happen when there is irritation in the lower part of the heartís pumping chambers. PVCs interrupt the normal heart rhythm and cause an irregular beat that can feel like a "missed beat" or a "flip-flop" in the chest. This can be harmless or it may lead to problems that are more serious. (Source: excerpt from HEART AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: NWHIC)

"Extra" heartbeats, also called palpitations, or premature ventricular contractions... (Source: excerpt from HEART AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: NWHIC)

Definitions of Palpitations:

Palpitations; unpleasant sensation of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Organs affected by Palpitations:

The list of organs typically affected by Palpitations may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Palpitations

The list below shows some of the causes of Palpitations mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Palpitations?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Palpitations. Of the 566 causes of Palpitations that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 11 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 17 causes are "common" diseases
  • 3 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 1 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 16 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 541 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Palpitations:

The following list of conditions have 'Palpitations' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Palpitations or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



























Conditions listing medical complications: Palpitations:

The following list of medical conditions have Palpitations or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.



  • Hyperthyroidism ... atrial fibrillation, paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, tachycardia



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Causes of Palpitations Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Palpitations based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Palpitations?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Palpitations, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    What are the alternative names for Palpitations:

    Awareness of heartbeat
    - (Source - Diseases Database)

    Classifications of Palpitations:

    Subtypes of Palpitations:

    Extra heartbeats (11 causes), Additional Heart Sounds (267 causes), Atrial fibrillation (77 causes), Bounding pulse (27 causes), Gallop, atrial (9 causes), Gallop, ventricular (5 causes), Loud Heart Sounds (10 causes), Pulse, bounding (13 causes), Soft Heart Sounds (9 causes), Tachycardia (194 causes), Bruit (15 causes), Bruits (22 causes), Cervical bruit (14 causes), Intracranial bruit (5 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Palpitations:

    Heart symptoms (2927 causes), Heart rhythm symptoms (1589 causes), Cardiovascular symptoms (3192 causes)

    Symptoms related to Palpitations:

    Rapid heart beat (865 causes), Slow heart beat (49 causes), Heart rhythm symptoms (1589 causes), Arrthymias, Ventricular tachycardia, Atrial fibrillation (77 causes), Atrial flutter, Supraventricular tachycardia, Panic attack (26 causes), Generalised anxiety disoreder, Anemia (926 causes), Hyperthyroidism (41 causes), Cocaine, Coffee, Pheochromocytoma (15 causes)

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Palpitations

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Palpitations and many other medical conditions:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Palpitations:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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