Heart palpitations are a common but usually harmless symptom. However, persistent heart palpitations or other severe symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting, require prompt medical attention.

Heart palpitations are rapid or irregular heartbeats felt in the chest, neck, or throat. People may describe them as fluttering or pounding, lasting a few seconds, minutes, or even longer.

Although heart palpitations are generally harmless, there are certain circumstances in which a person should not take them lightly, as they could be a sign of a life threatening condition.

This article provides guidance on when to be concerned about heart palpitations and when to seek medical attention from a doctor or emergency room.

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A person should contact a doctor if they experience any signs of chest pain or discomfort.

In relation to heart palpitations, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends contacting a doctor if a person has:

  • frequent or worsening palpitations
  • palpitations lasting longer than a few minutes
  • a heart condition or family history of heart problems

People who have heart palpitations with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention or call 911:

People with chest pain, pressure, and heart palpitations may be having a heart attack and should call 911 immediately.

Heart palpitations are not usually a cause for concern if they are:

  • infrequent
  • brief
  • unaccompanied by other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • not associated with any underlying heart condition or family history of heart problems

Heart palpitations have many possible causes, including:

They can also occur during pregnancy and perimenopause.

Making lifestyle changes can help reduce benign heart palpitations.

These may include:

People with frequent or bothersome heart palpitations — even after lifestyle changes — should talk with a doctor to determine the underlying cause and explore further treatment options.

Learn more about ways to stop heart palpitations.

Below, we answer common questions about heart palpitations:

How often is too often for heart palpitations?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the frequency of heart palpitations can vary from person to person.

If heart palpitations are frequent, bothersome, or affecting a person’s daily life, they should contact a doctor for further evaluation and management.

In general, if a person experiences six or more heart palpitations per minute or in groups of three or more within a short period, they should seek medical attention.

Is it typical to have heart palpitations all day?

It is not typical to have heart palpitations all day. Persistent heart palpitations throughout the day could be a sign of an underlying medical condition and should prompt a visit to the doctor or the emergency room for further evaluation.

Heart palpitations are usually harmless and pass quickly, but they can also indicate an underlying health condition.

People who experience frequent heart palpitations or have additional symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness should seek medical attention to rule out any serious cardiac issues.

Additionally, people with a known heart condition, a family history of heart disease, or other risk factors should consult a doctor to ensure proper evaluation and management of their heart palpitations.