Heart palpitations from anxiety: causes and symptoms

heart palpitations from anxiety

Heart palpitations feel like heat racing or skipping beats. The irregular heartbeat that causes a rapid heart rate may occur in response to specific stressful situations, especially anxiety. For example, when individuals experience heart palpitations from anxiety, they may feel the heart beating in the chest, neck, or throat.

Are heart palpitations from anxiety dangerous?

Feeling heart palpitations might be an alarming sign; luckily, most aren’t dangerous and usually disappear after the anxiety-causing situation passes.

Once you experience less common heart palpitations, seek medical help right away, as it may be a sign of a serious health problem, such as arrhythmia, known as abnormal heart rhythm.

When to worry about heart palpitations?

When one feels that heart palpitations cause anxiety rather than follow it, it is a warning sign. In addition, individuals may have palpitations along with chest pain, confusion, or shortness of breath. In this case, contacting a healthcare provider to diagnose heart health conditions is necessary.

Why does anxiety cause heart palpitations?

The body’s nervous system (ANS) is activated when someone is experiencing anxiety. It regulates such body functions as heart rate, breathing, and digestion. In response to stressful situations, ANS starts to trigger the body’s fight or flight response. Additionally, one may feel the following symptoms:

  • Sweating or trembling
  • problems with breathing
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • tense muscles
  • fatigue

Symptoms of heart palpitations from anxiety

People who experience heart palpitations may experience such symptoms. They include:

Irregular heartbeat. The individual may feel like the heart beats out of rhythm (the heart may speed up or slow down). Sometimes the heart may pause for a second or two. Monitoring heart rate is possible with a portable EKG monitor. It provides a complete picture of heart health within several minutes. Share your ECG report with a healthcare provider.
Find out how you can monitor heart rhythm at home.

Fluttering. The individual may experience flapping in the chest. The heart may feel like it’s flipping.

Pounding. It happens when the heart beats forcefully or very strongly.

How long can heart palpitation anxiety symptoms last?

Heart palpitations from anxiety usually go away within a few minutes and tend to start suddenly and end quickly.

Once heart palpitations are caused by anxiety, the healthcare provider may diagnose an anxiety disorder, which is the leading mental health condition in the USA. Excessive anxiety affects everyday activities, such as working, studying, or even meeting friends. According to a recent study, anxiety disorder affects almost 1 in 5 people at some point.

How to rule out causes of heart palpitations from anxiety?

First, your healthcare provider must verify that anxiety-related palpitations aren’t dangerous. The individual may need to do such tests as:

Chest X-ray. It helps to look at heart and lungs conditions;
Echocardiogram. It allows for examining the overall heart’s functions;
Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) helps to check heart rate;
Portable EKG monitor to record heart activity over 24 to 48 hours

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How to manage palpitations

Everyone feels anxious from time to time. When someone faces stressful situations, it is possible to calm the body’s flight-or-fight response and lower heart rate. The below techniques may help:

Taking deep breaths 

Controlling the breath may help to relax and slow the heart rate. Taking deep breaths through the nose and out through the mouth at least ten times in a row is necessary. Deep, consistent breathing at a controlled pace tells the parasympathetic nervous system to relax the body.

Focusing your mind 

Focusing on the mind is also a healthy practice, even when you are not stressed, to help with day-to-day well-being.

Take a walk 

A slow walk, ideally in nature, can give you fresh air and relieve anxious energy to calm you down. It is best to help lower the heart rate.


Make sure to drink enough water, as dehydration may worsen heart palpitations. Avoid caffeine since it triggers more anxiety and palpitations.

When to contact a healthcare provider

Seek care right away when you have heart palpitations and the following conditions:

  • Chest pain or discomfort;
  • shortness of breath or other breath-related problems;
  • unusual fatigue;
  • dizziness or confusion;
  • loss of consciousness.

Skips flips, and heart palpitations are the most common symptoms a person may feel occasionally. They are often just your heart’s normal reaction to stress, fatigue, or hormone changes. But sometimes, these symptoms are a warning of something more serious. Once you experience palpitations not caused by anxiety, immediately inform your healthcare provider or consult a cardiologist.

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