Heart palpitations can be associated with everything from drinking a cup of coffee to a heart attack. So, determining whether heart palpitations are a cause for concern can be tricky, to say the least.

Given our area of expertise — cardiovascular health — the team here South Shore Cardiovascular Associates never takes ongoing issues with heart palpitations lightly. 

In this blog, our providers discuss what heart palpitations are and some of the conditions and circumstances that can cause them.

Defining palpitations

Heart palpitations are when you feel as if your heart isn’t beating properly. Heart palpitations are often described as:

  • Pounding
  • Racing 
  • Skipping
  • Flip flopping
  • Fluttering


While many people feel these palpitations in their chest, they can also be felt in the neck or throat.

Palpitations that aren’t usually a cause for concern

First, let’s review instances in which palpitations aren’t usually a cause for concern. For example, your heart might feel like it’s racing after drinking caffeine. Or, something or someone might frighten you, and your heart might feel like it skipped a beat.

Or, you may climb a few flights of stairs, and your heart could feel like it’s pounding in your chest. In cases like these, heart palpitations are usually fleeting, and they usually pose no problems.

Palpitations that are a cause for concern

Just as there are quite a few causes for heart palpitations that aren’t usually a concern, there are also a number of causes for which there can be a concern.

For example, if you experience palpitations for no reason — they simply strike out of the blue and last for a few minutes — this might point toward an arrhythmia, or irregular heart beat. Arrhythmias affect up to 5% of the population, and atrial fibrillation is the most common type, affecting more than 12 million Americans. Arrhythmias can lead to heart rhythms that are too slow, too fast, or irregular.

Other issues that can lead to problematic heart palpitations include:

  • Low blood pressure, or hypotension
  • Valve disease
  • Heart failure
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thyroid disease
  • Hormone fluctuations, such as menopause
  • Certain medications, such as those that treat asthma

We want to point out that if you or a loved one experiences heart palpitations accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, and dizziness, call 911 immediately, as this might be a heart attack.

To sum things up, the list of causes for heart palpitations is long, so it would be impossible to provide an exhaustive list here. However, if you’re wondering whether you should seek guidance for your palpitations, here’s a good rule of thumb: If the palpitations have been ongoing and you can’t pinpoint a possible cause, it’s time to come see us for an evaluation.

To get to the bottom of your heart palpitations, book an appointment online or over the phone with South Shore Cardiovascular Associates today. We have offices in Brandon, Riverview, Tampa, and Sun City Center, Florida.

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