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Palpitations

What to Do For Palpitations

Last updated on:
23/04/2012

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

If you experience palpitations, remember that most are not life threatening and are not caused by a serious problem.

If your doctor has determined that they are not due to a serious cause, here's what you can do when they happen.

  • Lie down and try to remain calm. Panic can aggravate the problem.
  • Splash cold water on your face.
  • Exhale forcefully, as if you are trying to blow up a balloon.

Lifestyle Changes

It's best to check with your doctor if you experience palpitations. If your palpitations do not happen often, do not last long, are not accompanied by other symptoms, and do not appear to be due to underlying heart disease or serious arrhythmia, some basic lifestyle changes may help prevent them:

  • Get regular exercise. Try to walk for 20 or 30 minutes, three to five days a week. Start slowly and gradually build up your speed. Check with your doctor if you are considering an activity more vigorous than walking
  • Cut down on caffeine. Drink less coffee and black tea, and avoid food that contains caffeine, such as chocolate.
  • Get more sleep.
  • If you are under stress, consider a stress management program, therapeutic massage, yoga, or any other activity to help you relax.

Keeping Track Of Your Palpitations

If you start getting palpitations more often, or if they last longer, keep track of information that can help your doctor determine the cause, such as:

  • What were you doing at the times you felt palpitations?
  • What did you eat or drink before you started feeling the palpitations?
  • Were you experiencing stress?
  • Were you exercising?
  • If you are a woman, do your palpitations seem linked to your menstrual cycle?
 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.