Ways to stop heart palpitations
Management methods to stop heart palpitations may include relaxation techniques and exercise. However, people with frequent or severe symptoms may need medical treatment.
Heart palpitations may feel like the heart is:
- beating abnormally
- beating too fast
- irregular or skipping a beat
Causes of heart palpitations range from certain lifestyle habits, such as alcohol and drug intake, to strenuous exercise.
They are not typically cause for concern. However, an underlying medical condition may be responsible.
Keep reading to learn more about how to relieve heart palpitations and when to speak with a doctor.
Perform relaxation techniques
Stress can have many negative effects on a person’s health and may induce palpitations or make them worse.
Some people may find the following relaxation techniques helpful:
- deep breathing
- practicing yoga
- spending time outdoors
- taking short breaks from work or school
- using guided imagery, which a person can access online
Reduce or eliminate stimulant intake
Heart palpitations may become noticeable after using a stimulant, such as:
- tobacco products
- illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines
- some cold and cough medications
- caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea, and soda
- appetite suppressants
- some mental health medications
However, not all stimulants will cause palpitations in everyone.
Stimulate the vagus nerve
The vagus nerve connects the brain to the heart, and stimulating it may calm palpitations.
An individual can stimulate the vagus nerve with vagal maneuvers, which include:
- holding the breath and pushing down, as though having a bowel movement (Valsalva maneuver)
- placing ice or a cold, damp towel on the face for a few seconds
- splashing cold water on the face
- chanting “Om“
- blowing through an occluded straw
Before trying any of these methods, a person should speak with a doctor, who can advise on the most suitable techniques.
Keep electrolytes balanced
Electrolytes are electrically charged molecules that are present throughout the body and help with multiple functions. For instance, they play a significant role in regulating the heart rate.
Low electrolyte levels may be an indicator of heart disease and other conditions that may cause heart palpitations.
A person should consider eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients, fruits, and vegetables. This will provide appropriate electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
That said, it is best for a person to speak with a doctor if they have certain medical conditions that require limited potassium intake, such as kidney disease. High levels of potassium may cause arrhythmias and heart palpitations.
Some people may wish to attain these nutrients by taking supplements. However, an individual should consult a doctor before trying any supplements, particularly if they are also taking prescription medication.
Dehydration can alter electrolyte levels and cause lower blood pressure, which may lead to heart palpitations.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), people should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. That said, the amount of water that experts recommend drinking throughout the day will vary among individuals, depending on age, sex, and pregnancy status.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- dark urine
- increased heart rate
- dry mouth
- dry skin
A person should consider drinking a full glass of water if they notice any of these symptoms.
Avoid excessive alcohol use
Although drinking alcohol in moderation is not necessarily problematic, research indicates that even having 1.2 alcoholic drinks per day can increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Heart palpitations are just one symptom of this condition.
Exercise can improve overall cardiovascular health and help restore the heart’s natural rhythm. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
Cardiovascular exercise helps strengthen the heart, which can prevent or reduce palpitations.
Beneficial forms of exercise include:
- brisk walking
However, exercise may trigger palpitations in some people, and it is important to identify and avoid potentially problematic types of exercise.
Anyone who plans to begin a new exercise regimen should discuss their plans with a doctor first.
Treatment for heart palpitations will depend on the cause, including:
- premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)
- premature atrial complexes (PACs)
- supraventricular tachycardias (SVTs)
- atrial fibrillation
- atrial flutter
If there is no underlying medical condition, a doctor may seek to reassure an individual that the palpitations are not harmful.
However, a doctor may prescribe appropriate medications to help control a person’s palpitations and heart rate, such as:
- calcium channel blockers
- antiarrhythmic medications
If medications do not stop frequent palpitations, a doctor may suggest catheter ablation. This procedure involves inserting a thin tube through a blood vessel to the heart.
Other possible treatments include:
- a pacemaker
- changing medications that may be causing palpitations
When to speak with a doctor
A person should consult a doctor if they are experiencing heart palpitations that tend to last longer than a few seconds.
The doctor can determine whether an underlying condition is causing the palpitations, such as:
- heart disease
- thyroid issues
- structural or electrical heart conditions
- an abnormal heart rhythm, known as arrhythmia
- significant anemia
- heart failure, in rare cases
Also, a person who has had a heart attack may be more likely to develop palpitations.
A doctor will take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination as part of the diagnostic process.
They may ask questions about:
- how old the person was when symptoms began
- what the person’s symptoms are
- when the symptoms occur
- whether the symptoms begin slowly or suddenly
- how long the symptoms last
- what relieves the symptoms
- whether there are other symptoms, such as fainting, pain, or lightheadedness
- what their family health history includes
- what their social and dietary habits involve, such as caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise, sleep, and drug and medication use
They will also check the person’s vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse rate, and listen to their heart through a stethoscope.
If heart palpitations are not occurring at the time of the examination, the doctor may ask the individual to tap out the rhythm of the palpitations that they usually experience.
If necessary, the doctor may order blood tests to examine electrolyte, hormone, or thyroid levels.
They may also use an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to see if the heart is functioning properly.
One of the goals of diagnosis is to identify people at risk of arrhythmia. These individuals include those with:
- underlying heart disease
- dysfunction from a previous heart attack
- idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy
- heart valve regurgitation
“name”: “What should I drink to stop heart palpitations?”,
“text”: “Heart palpitations may be caused by dehydration or by drinking alcohol and fluids that contain stimulants such as caffeine. Drinking a glass of water and ensuring a person consumes six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day may help reduce heart palpitations.”
“name”: “Can heart palpitations go away on their own?”,
“text”: “Heart palpitations have many causes, some of which are benign and may go away on their own. It is best to speak with a doctor if a person has palpitations that are frequent, long lasting, or bothersome.”
“name”: “What is a normal heart rate?”,
“text”: “A normal pulse rate, or heart rate, is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.”
Frequently asked questions
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about heart palpitations.
What should I drink to stop heart palpitations?
Heart palpitations may be caused by dehydration or by drinking alcohol and fluids that contain stimulants such as caffeine. Drinking a glass of water and ensuring a person consumes six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day may help reduce heart palpitations.
Can heart palpitations go away on their own?
Heart palpitations have many causes, some of which are benign and may go away on their own. It is best to speak with a doctor if a person has palpitations that are frequent, long lasting, or bothersome.
What is a normal heart rate?
A normal pulse rate, or heart rate, is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Heart palpitations have many causes. They are often benign and go away on their own.
To help with heart palpitations, a person can try:
- performing certain physical maneuvers, such as vagal maneuvers
- keeping their heart healthy through diet and lifestyle practices
- maintaining good electrolyte levels
- avoiding stimulants
It is best to speak with a doctor if the sensation lasts longer than a few seconds or if other symptoms accompany the palpitations. In these cases, the person may have an underlying condition that requires treatment.