Causes of Palpitations

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

What are palpitations?

Palpitations are unpleasant sensations of irregular, rapid, or forceful beating of the heart. They are a common occurrence, though often not a cause for concern.

Causes of palpitations

There are numerous causes for palpitations including

In most of these cases, while your heart might beat faster or more forcefully than it usually does, your heart is still working normally.

However, some palpitations are a symptom of arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rhythms. The heart may beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. Sometimes arrhythmias are symptoms of heart attack, heart failure, heart valve disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or heart muscle disease.

If you have palpitations along with shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or fainting, seek medical attention immediately.

Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease


"What Are Palpitations." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. July 2011.

Zimetbaum, Peter J., et al. "Overview of Palpitations in Adults." UpToDate. 8 Nov. 2012.

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