You experience heart palpitations when your heart starts to pound or flutter or when it begins to beat very fast. Heart palpitations can be the result of exercise, fear, medicines and stress and can also arise due to a medical issue. The good news is that a majority of heart palpitations are not signs of dangerous complications.


Certain environmental factors can induce heart palpitations. These factors may include strong emotional reaction to a person or a situation. Situations that foster feelings of nervousness or anxiety such as an upcoming event can cause heart palpitations. These situations cause typical fight or flight reactions that automatically trigger physiological changes like rapid a heart beat to prepare the body for action. Exercise whose aim is for you to sweat profusely like aerobic exercise will cause heart palpitations and other positive benefits such as a stronger heart. Cigarette smoking or intake of too much caffeine can lead to heart palpitations in some individuals.


Intake of certain medications and illegal drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines will greatly enhance a person’s heart rate. When a person overdoses, we will suffer severe heart palpitations that may result in a stroke or heart failure. Cold medicines with pseudoephedrine added in them can also generate heart palpitations since the pseudoephedrine is a stimulant. Certain medicines for asthma also have stimulants that cause the heart to beat strongly. A lot of diet pills also contain pseudoephedrine and other types of stimulants that can cause heart palpitations.


Heart palpitations and an increased heart rate can signify certain types of medical conditions. A person suffering from hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland can have symptoms like tachycardia and palpitations. Tachycardia is a condition where the heart beats greater than 100 beats per minute.

When the heart’s electrical signals become dysfunctional, the person may experience heart arrhythmia. This condition may mean a damaged or weak heart probably due to problems like heart failure or mitral valve prolapse. People with arrhythmia can show symptoms like an accelerated or slowed down heart beat or palpitations.


This condition happens when one experiences an anxiety or panic attack. Hyperventilation symptoms and signs include deep-over and rapid breathing followed by heart palpitations. Besides panic attacks, hyperventilation can be due to lung or heart damage or infection, internal bleeding, pulmonary embolism, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Heart palpitations and hyperventilation can also occur from conditions such as sepsis and pneumonia. When a person experiences a shallow and rapid breathing cycle, he allows too much carbon dioxide levels to build up in his body. This then causes the heart to beat strongly and rapidly.

Emily Farish is a licensed acupuncturist in Spokane, WA and the founder of Emily Farish Acupuncture.