Penn Heart and Vascular Blog

Why Does My Heart Flutter

Has your heart ever skipped a beat? Whether it was because you were alarmed or in love, the feeling of your heart fluttering is a common one and does not usually require medical attention.  The sensation of abnormal heartbeats, also known as heart palpitations, happens to most people at some point in their lives.


Heart palpitations

Common causes of heart palpitations

  • Intense emotions like anxiety, stress or fear
  • Prescription drugs for asthma, thyroid disease, high blood pressure or cardiac arrhythmia
  • Non-prescription drugs including pseudoephedrine (decongestant), caffeine and nicotine
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Hormone changes
  • Fever
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anemia
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Heart valve disease

But sometimes heart palpitations are a sign of cardiac arrhythmia, a heart rhythm disorder that requires medical attention.

Talk to a doctor if your heart palpitations

  • Are accompanied by a racing heart beat 
  • Last more than a few seconds
  • Occur frequently
  • Have become bothersome

Seek immediate medical attention if your palpitations are accompanied by

  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Passing out

Medical therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for arrhythmias. However, some arrhythmias may be cured with catheter-based therapy, or radiofrequency ablation -- many times eliminating the need for medications altogether.  Penn Medicine is considered one of the top centers in the nation for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia.

Have you experienced an irregular heartbeat? Learn more about arrhythmia treatment and diagnosis at Penn.

About this Blog

The Penn Heart and Vascular blog provides the latest information on heart disease prevention, nutrition and breakthroughs in cardiovascular care.

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