What are palpitations?
Palpitations are when you notice your heart beating. For a few seconds or minutes, you may feel like your heart is:
- Pounding – beating fast and hard against your chest
- Fluttering – beating fast
- Beating irregularly – beating at a different rhythm and sometimes missing a beat -these are known as ectopic beats
Palpitations can be scary, but they are not harmful or a sign of a serious health problem in most cases.
What causes palpitations?
Many people get palpitations, they are not just a symptom of having or recovering from COVID.
You might notice palpitations when:
- You are worried
- You have a fever, or are ill
- You are pregnant
- You have been exercising
Some medication can give you palpitations. You can also get palpitations from drinking too many drinks with caffeine such as:
- Energy drinks
A small number of people with palpitations do so because they have an abnormal heart rhythm, which can make them feel like their heart is beating in a different rhythm. This is called ‘cardiac arrhythmia’, and it is not usually harmful as long as is it being treated.
When should I see my doctor?
You will not usually need to see a GP if:
- Your palpitations do not happen often
- Your palpitations do not last a long time
You should see a GP if you have had palpitations before or if they:
- Last a long time
- Do not get any better
- Get worse
- You have a history of heart problems
- You feel troubled (or anxious)
When should I seek urgent medical attention?
Call 999 if you have any of these problems at the same time as palpitations:
- Pains in your chest
- Feeling dizzy