Can you hear your heart thumping?

Heart palpitations are fairly common but are they a cause for concern?

Hearing your heart thumping, or sensing a fluttering in your chest area could be due to heart palpitations. This is the sensation of your heart beating and the symptoms do not generally last long.

Try taking your pulse to see if the timing matches. It isn’t usually a cause for concern if you can count 100 beats a minute (a little less than 2 a second) or if the beats are regular. However, if the sensation persists or if you have any other symptoms such as light headedness, chest pain or shortness of breath then you should get if checked out by your medical practitioner.

Heart Palpitations – Causes

There are various causes of heart palpitations but the most common are:

  • Excitement or being nervous
  • High temperature
  • Stress, anxiety or panic attacks
  • Too much caffeine
  • Not enough sleep
  • Rich or spicy food
  • Intense exercise
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Illegal drugs
  • Hormone changes for women (menstruation and menopause)

Read more on how to manage some of these lifestyle factors: cutting down on caffeinegetting a better night’s sleepreducing your alcohol consumptionmanaging stress


There are various medicines that can cause heart palpitations and you should check with your GP if you believe that some of these may be affecting you:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • High blood pressure medication
  • Inhalers (Ventolin)
  • Fungal medications

Medical Conditions

Heart palpitations can also be as a result of certain medical conditions:

  • An abnormal heart beat or heart arrhythmia
  • Heart disease, heart failure or valve problems
  • Diabetes – low blood sugar
  • Anaemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • An overactive thyroid

You should see your GP if your symptoms persist, get worse or if you don’t believe that your symptoms could be linked to any of the above. Your GP will be able to conduct some simple tests to eliminate an underlying condition and to advise what the best treatment may be for you.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses

British Heart Foundation

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