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How to Handle Heart Palpitations

Palpitations are heartbeat sensations that make you feel as though your heart is racing. Once your doctor has ruled out a serious medical condition, take the steps described here to control the condition.


  • : Seek emergency treatment if palpitations cause loss of consciousness or are accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, unusual sweating, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • Step 1: Track the palpitations Keep track of how often you have palpitations, when they occur, their duration, your heart rate when you experience them, and how you felt at the time. Determine whether they are associated with certain activities, events, or feelings.
  • : Consult your doctor immediately if you suddenly experience new or different palpitations or if you are at risk for heart disease when they occur, if you are experiencing frequent extra heartbeats, or if your pulse is greater than 100 beats per minute.
  • Step 2: Reduce stress Reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Use stress reducing techniques, such as meditation or tai chi to prevent palpitations.
  • TIP: If palpitations occur, use deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to reduce their severity.
  • Step 3: Don't smoke Cut back on caffeine and do not smoke. Be careful about using decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.
  • Step 4: Eat healthy foods Maintain a well-balanced, low-fat diet. Eat enough to avoid low blood sugar levels, and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Step 5: Exercise Exercise regularly, and be sure to get enough sleep.
  • Step 6: Watch your blood pressure and cholesterol Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to keep them under control.
  • FACT: Before 1900, when walking was the most common means of transportation, very few people died of heart disease.

You Will Need

  • Record of your palpitations
  • Stress reduction techniques
  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Monitoring devices
  • Deep breathing exercises (optional)
  • Muscle relaxation techniques (optional)

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