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Heart palpitations are an uncomfortable awareness of the heart beating rapidly or irregularly. Palpitations can be caused by stress, fatigue, or overuse of alcohol or stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine, and they usually are not a serious problem.

Heart palpitations can feel like:

  • Pounding or fluttering in your chest.
  • Your heart is doing a flip-flop.
  • Your heart is skipping or missing a beat.
  • Your heart is racing.
  • You have an extra heartbeat.
  • Your heart is beating in your neck.

If palpitations persist or occur with fainting, near fainting, or lightheadedness, they may be a sign of a heart problem.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine