5 Common Causes of Rapid Heartbeat

A closeup image of an older woman with her hand over her heart as she sits on the sofa.

An elevated heart rate is usually nothing to worry about if you’re working out, have a job that requires you to be active, or experiencing heightened emotions such as nervousness or excitement. This normal sensation happens to millions of people annually and can be caused by various factors. 

Not often linked to a serious underlying heart condition, a rapid heartbeat can be a symptom or effect of an emotional state, especially ones that are more on the extreme end of feeling.

In rarer cases, a rapid heartbeat could be the first sign of an irregular heartbeat caused by a specific heart-related condition. 

Either way, it is important to understand why your heart is racing so that you can seek proper care, diagnosis, and treatment if it occurs regularly or accompanies other worrisome symptoms. 

Let’s define a rapid heartbeat and discuss the five most common causes in further detail. 

First, What Causes a Rapid Heartbeat?

Also known as heart palpitations, a rapid heartbeat is just as it sounds: a feeling of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart. 

It’s important to remember that although a rapid heartbeat can be surprising and sometimes pop up unexpectedly, it’s usually linked to your emotions, mental state, or direct physical activity and not linked to anything serious health-wise.

Rapid Heartbeat Symptoms

Heart palpitations differ from person to person, but aside from them feeling like your heart is pounding rapidly, they can also feel like

  • Flip-flopping
  • Fluttering 
  • Pounding
  • Skipping beats

It is important to note that symptoms of a rapid heartbeat can be felt in the throat, neck, and chest. People can experience them during activity and rest periods.

The Five Most Common Causes of a Rapid Heartbeat

For most, the cause of a rapid heartbeat is unknown unless directly examined using an EKG or other heart-specific testing in conjunction with other examinations and tests. 

The five most common causes of a rapid heartbeat are

  1. Stress
  2. Strenuous exercise
  3. Anxiety or panic attacks
  4. Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy or menopause
  5. Caffeine

Other less common reasons for a rapid heartbeat include

  • Nicotine or stimulant drugs
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Thyroid-related hormonal imbalance

It is crucial to remember that there is often no direct link between a rapid heartbeat and specific health conditions. Many times, after diagnostic testing, doctors cannot find any heart-related issues that would cause the rapid heartbeat to occur. It is most likely correlated to lifestyle factors. 

In rare cases, heart palpitations are caused by an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

Rare Complications

If a specific heart-related condition causes your rapid heartbeat, rare complications could include

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Fainting

How Do You Examine and Treat a Rapid Heartbeat?

If you experience an elevated heartbeat often, we recommend consulting your doctor or cardiologist for further evaluation. 

If you are experiencing symptoms that are currently worrisome in conjunction with your rapid heartbeat or an elevated heart rate that won’t decrease, you should seek urgent or emergency care. 

In routine instances, after performing a physical examination, your doctor may recommend additional testing to rule out any heart-related conditions. The most common testing for rapid heartbeat includes

  • An EKG — Echocardiogram or EKG is a quick and painless way to monitor your heart rhythms. 
  • A Holter Monitor — A portable EKG monitor worn to measure your heart’s electrical activity over a few days.
  • An Echocardiogram — A noninvasive monitoring device that uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart in motion. 

In rarer cases, you may need to perform event recording. In this instance, a device is worn for extended periods. It tracks your heart rhymes and allows you to press a button to record specific periods when you experience a rapid heartbeat.

Heart Care You Can Count on in Amory

If you are experiencing heart palpitations regularly or have concerns about a rapid heartbeat, our experienced team is here to help. 

Visit Amory Urgent Care to receive an EKG to check your heart which will help in further evaluation and necessary treatment. 

We are open seven days a week to help with your heart-related needs, rapid heartbeat included. No appointment is necessary; walk in today to get the care you need now.