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Heart Palpitations And Anxiety: Signs, Causes & Treatment Options

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During bouts of anxiety or extreme stress, you might experience physiological changes like rapid breathing, increased heart rate, or irregular heartbeat. These physical manifestations may present in response to stress or as a symptom of specific anxiety disorders.

Heart palpitations may be triggered during anxiety-provoking situations, particularly during stressful situations. These situations might include heart palpitations before a job interview, during a flight, or when delivering a speech.

Symptoms of heart palpitations include irregular heartbeat patterns, fluttering sensations, and a feeling of a rapid, pounding heart. Most anxiety-induced heart palpitations are not typically dangerous and tend to subside once the triggering situation passes.

In this article, I will explain the association between anxiety and heart palpitations, including its causes, signs, and health implications. I will also discuss treatment for heart palpitations and tips to minimize anxiety-induced heart palpitations.

Introduction Of Anxiety Heart Palpitations

Anxiety-provoking situations may cause increased heart palpitations, often accompanying sensations of pounding, fluttering, racing, or skipped heartbeats. Heart palpitations happen as a physiological response to heightened stress or anxiety levels.

Episodes of anxiety trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response by activating your body’s autonomic nervous system. Such a mechanism may increase your heart rate and cause you to feel heart palpitations in the chest, neck, or throat.

Heart palpitations could seem alarming but are usually not dangerous and tend to subside once the triggering situation passes. Besides heart palpitations, anxiety could manifest in other physical symptoms such as fatigue, rapid breathing, and sweating.

It is crucial to differentiate anxiety-related palpitations from those caused by health conditions like arrhythmias or myocarditis, which may require medical attention.

Anxiety & Heart PalpitationsSigns Of Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

Heart palpitations present as various sensations, including fluttering, irregular heartbeat, and pounding, often associated with heightened awareness of your heart rhythm.

Anxiety-induced heart palpitations may cause you to experience a fluttery or flapping feeling in your chest. You might also become aware of your heart rate rising and slowing down, even inducing a feeling like your heart skips a beat or pauses for a second or two.

These symptoms of heart palpitations could be distressing. They may be linked to anxiety, triggering the body’s fight or flight response.

Here is a table highlighting the chief symptoms of heart palpitations and anxiety:

Symptoms of Heart Palpitations Associated with Anxiety
Fluttering Yes
Irregular heartbeat Yes
Pounding Yes
Awareness of heart rhythm Yes
Shortness of breath Yes

Heart Palpitations Causes From Anxiety

Activation of the body’s autonomic nervous system in response to anxiety might raise the heartbeat and induce heart palpitations. The following factors contribute to why anxiety causes heart palpitations:

  • Increased Sympathetic Activity: Anxiety triggers the sympathetic nervous system, leading to the release of adrenaline. This surge in adrenaline may stimulate the heart, causing it to beat rapidly and forcefully, resulting in palpitations.
  • Electrical Impulses: Anxiety may disrupt the heart’s regular electrical activity, leading to irregular heartbeats or palpitations. Such interference can make you feel like your heart is skipping beats or beating too quickly.
  • Hyperventilation: During anxiety, you might experience rapid breathing or hyperventilation. Such respiratory discomfort may alter the carbon dioxide levels in the blood, affecting your heart’s rhythm and potentially causing palpitations.
  • Muscle Tension: Anxiety often accompanies muscle tension, including in the chest area. Constricted chest muscles may impact your heart’s functioning, contributing to palpitations.
  • Heightened Awareness: When anxious, you focus on bodily sensations, including your heartbeat. The heightened awareness could make normal heartbeats feel irregular or exaggerated, leading to perceived palpitations.

Understanding these mechanisms can help you recognize the connection between anxiety and heart palpitations, leading to better management and prevention strategies.

Heart Palpitations Diagnosis

Your doctor may conduct a thorough assessment, including listening to your heart for abnormalities and performing relevant blood tests to rule out underlying health conditions.

The doctor may also inquire about your:

  • Current medications, including herbal formulations
  • Symptoms
  • Medical history
  • Lifestyle factors, such as alcohol and caffeine intake, which may cause palpitations
  • Diet

Your doctor may suggest a blood test (complete blood count or CBC) to check for anemia or low potassium. They might also investigate the possibility of a thyroid problem or other health issues causing heart palpitations.

Heart Palpitations Treatment

A holistic approach to treating anxiety-induced heart palpitations involves combining medications, complementary health treatments, and psychotherapy tailored to individual needs.

The following table highlights some treatment approaches to manage heart palpitations:

Treatment Type Description
Complementary Treatments Techniques like biofeedback and massage therapy could help promote relaxation, reduce stress levels, and help manage anxiety-induced palpitations. These techniques could help control your heart rate and breathing, minimizing heart palpitations.
Medications A doctor could prescribe anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants to manage heart palpitations during anxiety. These medications may include beta blockers like propranolol and benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam and diazepam.
Psychotherapy Undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy could identify and improve your thought patterns to alleviate anxiety and associated heart palpitations. Exposure-response prevention therapy aims to generate a positive response to your fears to mitigate your anxiety triggers.

Time Duration Of Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

Heart palpitations arising from anxiety typically exhibit a short-term nature, often subsiding promptly after onset. These palpitations usually last a few minutes, starting suddenly and ending quickly.

In cases of recurring heart palpitations due to anxiety, a doctor may consider diagnosing an anxiety disorder, which might significantly impact daily activities.

To provide a clearer understanding, let’s compare heart palpitations caused by anxiety versus other potential causes:

Heart Palpitations from Anxiety Other Potential Causes
Typically short-lived Can be persistent
Promptly subside after onset May last longer
Often triggered by stress Varied triggers
Generally not harmful Could indicate health issues
Common in anxiety disorders Various underlying conditions

Potential Implications Of Heart Palpitations From Anxiety

According to the NHS, you may not require medical counsel if you experience occasional or mild cases of heart palpitations. In most cases, heart palpitations triggered by anxiety are not life-threatening and typically subside once the triggering situation has passed.

However, in rare instances, heart palpitations could indicate a severe health problem like arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). It is crucial to differentiate between benign anxiety-induced palpitations and those that may indicate an underlying cardiac condition.

If you experience heart palpitations along with symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or confusion, seek immediate medical attention. These signs might indicate a more severe underlying issue that requires prompt evaluation and treatment.

Tips To Manage Anxiety

You may implement stress-management techniques to reduce the severity of anxiety-induced heart palpitations. These anxiety reduction techniques may include:

  • Coping with stress: Elevated stress levels may exacerbate the physiological symptoms associated with anxiety, including heart palpitations. Exposing yourself to familiar stress-inducing situations in a controlled environment may help develop coping skills against stress/anxiety.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing: It is a relaxation technique that requires you to breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Performing diaphragmatic breathing could help regulate your heart rate and reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • Regular exercise: Exercising regularly could release endorphins (pleasure hormones) that reduce anxiety/stress and elevate your mood. Engaging in exercises like swimming, running, or strength training could also contribute to better cardiovascular function.
  • Getting enough sleep: Getting adequate sleep for at least 8 hours a day is essential for the body to recuperate. Poor sleep has been associated with irregular heartbeat, and sleep deficiency may trigger anxiety and increase heart palpitations.
  • Meditation: Mindful meditation, when performed regularly, could help train your brain to manage and mitigate anxious thoughts as they arise. If you find it difficult to sit and concentrate, start by doing yoga or walking meditation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can Stress and Anxiety-Induced Heart Palpitations Lead to Long-Term Heart Damage?
    Anxiety-induced heart palpitations, if persistent, may contribute to long-term heart damage. Chronic activation of your body’s stress response system may lead to increased strain on the heart, potentially impacting its structural and functional integrity over time.
  • Are There Specific Triggers or Situations That Make Anxiety-Related Heart Palpitations Worse?
    High-stress environments, social interactions, traumatic events, or excessive caffeine intake are some situations or triggers that may exacerbate anxiety-related heart palpitations.
    Understanding and avoiding these triggers, coupled with stress management techniques, may help reduce palpitation severity.
  • How Do Lifestyle Changes, Such as Exercise and Diet, Impact the Frequency of Heart Palpitations Caused by Anxiety?
    An improper diet deficient in brain-boosting nutrients, paired with a sedentary lifestyle, might increase the frequency of heart palpitations caused by anxiety.
  • Are There Any Alternative or Holistic Remedies That Can Help Alleviate Anxiety-Induced Heart Palpitations?
    Alternative or holistic remedies for anxiety-induced heart palpitations may include mindfulness meditation, yoga, acupuncture, herbal formulations, and aromatherapy. However, consult a doctor before trying these methods to ensure safety and efficacy.
  • Can Chronic Stress and Anxiety Increase the Risk of Developing More Serious Heart Conditions Beyond Palpitations?
    Prolonged exposure to stress hormones and heightened sympathetic activity may contribute to cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms, or heart attack. Seeking timely interventions and adopting stress management strategies are crucial.


Anxiety is a common cause behind increased heart rate and heart palpitations, which may heighten during stressful scenarios or events. You could reduce occasional heart palpitations and anxiety through relaxation practices like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.

However, in rare cases, heart palpitations might indicate underlying health conditions like arrhythmias, myocarditis, or thyroid issues. These cases require immediate medical attention and proper diagnosis through various tests and examinations.

Splashing cold water on your face, engaging in regular exercise, increasing water intake, and breathing deeply may help calm anxiety-provoked heart palpitations.

  • The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
  • It is not recommended to disregard/delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of what you read or accessed through this article.
  • The results may vary from individual to individual.
  • It is recommended to consult your doctor for any underlying medical conditions or if you are on any prescribed medicines before trying any tips or strategies.
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