If you feel your heart racing, beating too hard, or skipping beats, you most likely have heart palpitations. You don’t have to learn to live with palpitations, especially if there are disrupting your life. Here are some of the best ways to stop heart palpitations.
What Are Heart Palpitations?
Heart palpitations can feel different for each person. Most people with palpitations feel that their heart is beating too fast (tachycardia) with or without skipped beats (abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia). The arrhythmia can feel like a “beat-skipping, pounding, throbbing, flip-flopping, or fluttering” feeling in your chest or neck.
Palpitations are often benign in nature, but some may be related to a serious underlying ailment. If you have heart palpitations, you should always be evaluated by your health care provider before you attempt to treat your symptoms.
15 Ways To Effectively Deal With Palpitations
Here are some of the common things that you can do to stop your heart palpitations. Many people have been successful in stopping heart palpitations naturally. If your palpitations persist, worsen, or you experience concerning symptoms such as lightheadedness, chest pain, and shortness of breath, then seek medical help immediately.
Eat a balanced and healthy diet – A balanced and healthy diet that is low in cholesterol and fat is important for keeping your heart functioning normally. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause or worsen palpitations. There are many dietary and herbal supplements available to help palpitations. I recommend you take a conservative approach to supplements until you become more familiar with them and find the ones that work best for you.
Although some dietary and herbal supplements can improve your symptoms, taking the wrong supplement or too high a dose can worsen heart palpitations. For example, too low or too high a potassium level in your body can cause potentially serious cardiac arrhythmia. It’s important to have just the right balance of minerals like potassium and vitamins to keep your heart beating normally. See Foods High In Antioxidant – Eating Smart For Better Health.
Eating regularly and watching your sugar consumption and calories are all important, especially if you have diabetes. Blood sugar that is too low or too high can cause palpitations.
Avoid foods like chocolate with high caffeine content and food additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate), a common additive used to flavor Chinese food.
Lose weight – If you are overweight, then you are at higher risk for palpitations, even with modest exercise, because of the extra workload placed on your heart. Diet and exercise work together to help you achieve your ideal body weight (a body mass index or BMI of 18.5 to less than 25). If your BMI is 30 or higher, then you are obese. Use this calculator to find your BMI and learn your weight category.
Control your blood pressure – Hypertension (high blood pressure) puts a strain on your heart, which can make your palpitations worse. You may be able to lower your blood pressure with a combination of diet, weight loss, and exercise. You can find my recommendation for an excellent program to control your blood pressure and lose weight in the “Final Thought” section at the end of this article.
Exercise regularly – Regular exercise will help to condition your cardiovascular system. People that run routinely tend to have lower than normal heart rates (bradycardia), which can help avoid palpitations under normal situations. It is important to start slow and monitor your pulse when first beginning an exercise program.
During vigorous exercise, a fast heart rate is part of the body’s normal physiologic response, especially if you are out of shape or overweight. See Fast Weight Loss Exercises – 5 Easy Ways To Lose Fat Quickly! Stop immediately if your heart feels like it is going too fast or if you have palpitations or other concerning symptoms.
Cool yourself down -Overexercising, being in a sweltering environment, and fever from infections or other medical conditions can also cause palpitations. If you feel overheated, then try to relax in a cooler environment. Excessive heat can cause your heart to beat fast and skip beats.
Conversely, exposure to excessive cold with severe hypothermia can slow your heart but cause serious arrhythmia.
Rehydrate yourself – Dehydration can cause palpitations by making your heart work harder to get oxygen to your body’s cells. Always keep yourself normally hydrated, especially in hot weather or if you are exercising vigorously. Dehydration can decrease the amount of blood in your circulatory system (contract your intravascular space) and lead to abnormal electrolyte levels.
If you sweat a lot, you can lose essential minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Drink beverages that contain a balanced electrolyte solution. These minerals play a vital role in your heart’s electrical conduction system, and a severe deficiency can cause cardiac arrhythmia.
Get a good night’s sleep – Sleep deprivation is another common cause of cardiac palpitations. Try to get at least 8 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. If you snore at night and breath erratically, you may have sleep apnea, causing cardiac arrhythmias like AFib (atrial fibrillation). See Natural Ways To Help With Sleep – Feeling Refreshed Every Morning! and How To Diagnose Sleep Apnea At Home – A Revolutionary New And Convenient Option!
Relax and chill out– Sometimes, just sitting or lying down for a while will help improve or resolve your palpitations, especially if you have overexerted yourself or you have had a hectic day. Plan to take frequent breaks while you are doing things that require physical overexertion. It’s also important to learn how to how to stop heart palpitations due to anxiety. See Mind Relaxation Techniques – A Healthy Escape From Reality.
Try biofeedback – Biofeedback uses technology that allows you to monitor your heart rate (pulse) and lower it by using relaxation and visualization techniques. The simplest approach is to use a device that monitors your pulse by attaching a sensor to your finger. There are also biofeedback machines that monitor other physiologic parameters such as breathing and sweat gland activity (galvanic skin response or GSR).
Biofeedback will not allow you to stop heart palpitations immediately. As you continue to work with biofeedback, you will be able to control or prevent your palpitations without the machine, especially during times of stress, using the techniques you have learned. Some people get better results by consulting a biofeedback therapist.
Learn to control anxiety and depression – Anxiety and stress are among the most common causes of palpitations. Learn to avoid or minimize stressful situations and difficult people. Fear and panic (which can cause the release of adrenalin) can cause severe palpitations. If these symptoms are on-going (chronic), they are more like to produce frequent and severe symptoms. See How To Beat Anxiety Naturally & Be Stress-Free!
Depression can also cause cardiac palpitations, although not as frequently as anxiety. Mindful meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi can help you control your anxiety and palpitations. See How To Deal With Depression Alone – A Rejuvenating Self-Help Guide.
Monitor your caffeine and alcohol consumption – Caffeine and alcohol are commonly associated with palpitations. Decaf coffee is ok but if you must drink caffeine, try to limit your coffee to one 8 ounce cup a day. The best bet with alcohol is to eliminate it.
Stop smoking – Avoid cigarette smoking or any other source of nicotine. Nicotine is a cardiac stimulant and is well known to cause or worsen palpitations.
Try the Valsalva maneuver – The Valsalva maneuver can slow your heart rate by stimulating your vagus nerve (10th cranial nerve). To execute this maneuver during an episode of palpitations, tighten your abdominal muscles like you are trying to have a bowel movement for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat as necessary. Always check with your health care provider before using the Valsalva maneuver to treat your palpitations.
Keep a log – Keep a log of what you are doing, eating, or drinking during your palpitations, as well as the time of day or night they begin and how long they last. You may discover important trends that will ultimately allow you to identify and eliminate things that bring about or worsen your palpitations.
Minimize medications – Try to identify any OTC and prescribed medications that may be giving you palpitations or worsening them. Over the counter decongestants and prescription inhalers are a common cause of palpitations. Never stop a prescribed medication without first checking with your health care provider.
Recreational drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can cause dangerous and life-threatening arrhythmias! If you use recreational drugs and you are having palpitations, then call 911 immediately!
Here is a video from Howcast that summarizes some of the things you can do to stop heart palpitations.
Causes Of Heart Palpitations
These are some of the medical problems that can be causing or contributing to your palpitations. Always let your health care provider know if you are not feeling well or have concerning symptoms, especially if you have a history of medical problems.
Heart problems – Heart problems like arrhythmia (e.g., atrial fibrillation), heart attack, heart valve problems (e.g., mitral valve prolapse), and congestive heart failure (CHF) can all cause palpitations. If you have a history of heart problems and are experiencing palpitations take immediate action to get a medical evaluation!
Lung Problems – Many lung problems can affect your heart and cause palpitations. Low blood oxygen levels from things like lung disease (e.g., COPD and asthma), pneumonia, or sleep apnea are a common cause of palpitations.
If you smoke cigarettes, then plan to taper down and stop as soon as possible! Smoking can worsen all lung problems and decrease oxygen delivery to your heart.
Severe infection – Severe infection with sepsis or shock, most commonly involving the lungs, can cause palpitations. This is especially true if you have a history of serious heart or lung problems. All types of infections should be evaluated and treated as early as possible to avoid serious medical complications.
Anemia and blood loss – Anemia (having less red blood cells) and blood loss (bleeding internally and externally) can both cause palpitations. Your heart beats faster to bring enough oxygen to the cells in your body (increased oxygen demand). Sudden (acute) blood loss or rapidly developing anemia are more likely to cause palpitations with symptoms than if the process is slower.
Thyroid dysfunction – An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can raise your body metabolism, causing a rapid heartbeat and arrhythmia. Severe cases of an underactive thyroid can slow your heart down (bradycardia) and also cause arrhythmia. Hyperthyroidism is a more common cause of palpitations than hypothyroidism but both types can cause serious arrhythmias.
Changes in hormonal levels & Pregnancy – As you age, there can be significant fluctuations in your hormone levels. Hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women and hormone shifts in pregnancy are common causes of palpitations.
If you have or have had any of these symptoms during an episode of palpitations, then you need to seek help immediately, which could include the need to call 911 to be transported to the hospital for emergency evaluation and treatment.
It’s also important to note the duration of your symptoms. Symptoms that resolve immediately (in less than a few seconds) are usually less concerning.
- Chest pain or pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheaded, dizzy, or fainting (syncope)
- Confusion or other neurological symptoms
- Nausea (more concerning if accompanied by chest pain or pressure)
- Severe anxiety
There are many ways to stop heart palpitations. If you have recurrent palpitations, it is important to see your health care provider to eliminate a potentially serious underlying medical problem before you attempt to treat them on your own.
Keeping a log of your palpitations will help you decide on the best initial treatment approach. You may have to experiment with one or more treatment modalities until you find what works best for you. It’s important to consider treatments for both your body and your mind.
If you are overweight, out of shape, and have hypertension, then choosing the right diet and exercise program is an excellent way to control your palpitations. The number one book I recommend is The 28 Day DASH Diet for weight loss and blood pressure control. This book contains recipes and workouts that provide a practical and quick approach to give you the results you need.
Enlisting the help of family, friends, or joining a support group can help motivate you to find a workable solution for your palpitations.
Tell Us What You Think
Please let us know what’s on your mind in the comment section, or if I can help you with anything.
- Do you have any additional tips or suggestions on how to stop palpitations?
- How were you able to diagnose the cause of your palpitations?
- What are you doing to prevent palpitations from returning?
- Have you found it helpful to keep a log of activities during your palpitations?