Heartbeats that are hard and fast are called palpitations (say: pal-pit-ay-shuns). It is normal to hear or feel your heart "pounding" as it beats faster when you exercise or do other physical activities. But if you have palpitations, you might feel your heart pounding while you are just sitting still or moving slowly.
Many things can cause palpitations. Some causes of heart palpitations include the following:
Sometimes the cause of palpitations cannot be found. This happens in about 1 of every 7 people who have palpitations. Palpitations in these people usually are not harmful.
Your doctor will examine you and ask you about any medicines you are taking, your diet and if you have panic attacks. Your doctor may want you to have a resting electrocardiogram test. This test keeps track of your heartbeat over a certain amount of time. Your doctor also may test your blood.
If these tests do not show what is causing your palpitations, your doctor may have you wear a heart monitor for 1 to 14 days. This monitor will show any breaks in your heart's rhythm. Your doctor might refer you to a cardiologist (a heart doctor) for more tests or treatment.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff