Heart palpitations can cause a sensation of a pounding heart or a racing pulse. Palpitations can also feel like a fluttering feeling in the chest or like the heart has skipped a beat. While medical attention may be necessary, some home remedies can help to stop palpitations.
Lifestyle factors can cause heart palpitations. Less frequently, an underlying medical condition is responsible. Palpitations can result from the following conditions, and they require a doctor's care:
The following methods can help to reduce palpitations.
1. Perform relaxation techniques
Stress can have many ill effects on a person's health. It can induce palpitations or make them worse.
It may help to try the following relaxation techniques:
- deep breathing
- spending time outdoors
- taking short breaks from work or school
- using a method of guided imagery, these are available to purchase online
2. Reduce or eliminate stimulant intake
Symptoms may become noticeable after using a stimulant.
The following contain stimulants:
- tobacco products
- illegal drugs
- some cold and cough medications
- caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soda
- appetite suppressants
- some mental health drugs
- some high blood pressure medications
Not all stimulants will cause palpitations in everyone.
3. Stimulate the vagus nerve
The vagus nerve connects the brain to the heart, and stimulating it can help to calm palpitations. A person can do so by:
- holding the breath and pushing down, as if making a bowel movement
- placing ice or a cold, damp towel on the face for a few seconds
- splashing cold water on the face
- chanting "Om"
- taking a cold shower
Before trying this method consult a doctor, who can advise on the best technique.
4. Keep electrolytes balanced
Electrolytes are molecules found throughout the body that help to transfer electrical signals. These signals play a significant role in regulating the heart rate.
A person can boost the number of electrolytes in their body by eating foods rich in:
A normal diet usually provides a sufficient source of sodium.
The following foods have high potassium contents:
Dairy products and dark, leafy greens are rich in calcium. Magnesium is also found in these vegetables, as well as in nuts and fish.
It may be tempting to attain these nutrients by taking supplements. A person should consult a doctor before trying any supplements, particularly if they are also taking prescription medication.
5. Keep hydrated
When the body is dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to circulate blood, which can cause heart palpitations.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. The recommended amount will vary, depending on age, sex, and whether a person is pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A person should drink a full cup or glass of water when:
- their urine is dark
- their heart rate increases
- they have dry mouth
- they feel thirsty
- they have a headache
- they feel dizzy
- the skin is dry or pruny
6. Avoid excessive alcohol use
Alcohol is a depressant and does not typically raise the heartrate.
While drinking in moderation is not necessarily problematic, some research indicates that even one drink per day can increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation. A palpitating heart is just one symptom of this condition.
7. Exercise regularly
Exercise can improve overall cardiovascular health and restore the heart's natural rhythm. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen the heart, which can prevent or reduce palpitations.
Beneficial exercises include:
However, exercise may trigger palpitations in some people, and it is important to identify and avoid problematic exercises.
Consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
See a doctor if heart palpitations tend to last longer than a few seconds.
A doctor can determine whether an underlying condition is causing the palpitations.
These conditions commonly include:
- heart disease
- thyroid issues
- heart failure
- heart valve disease
Other causes of heart palpitations include:
- some medications
- illegal drug use
- tobacco use
- excessive alcohol intake
Some prescription medications can cause heart palpitations. Also, a person who has had a heart attack may be more likely to develop palpitations.
Treatment will depend on the cause. A doctor may recommend the following:
- a pacemaker
- changing medications that may be causing palpitations.
Heart palpitations are common, and they often last for a few seconds. The tips listed above can help to stop palpitations and reduce their occurrence.
Speak to a doctor if the sensation lasts for longer than a few seconds. This may indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment.