10 Tips to Stop Heart Palpitations
This article discusses ways to decrease how often you experience palpitations and how to stop them when they occur. It also talks about when to seek medical attention.
Try lying down and resting when your palpitations start. Lying down also keeps you safe because people sometimes feel lightheaded when they have heart palpitations.
Raise your feet above your head, if possible, and try taking slow deep breaths while thinking about slowing your heart rate. Visualize a calm environment and focus on relaxing your body.
Learn more about how to relax your muscles progressively.
Vagal maneuvers may include:
- splashing cold water on your face while holding your breath
- bearing down as if having a bowel movement
- stimulating your gag reflex
Not drinking enough water makes your blood thicker and puts more stress on your heart. If you feel dehydrated or your urine is dark, start rehydrating yourself.
Electrolytes are essential for your body’s electrical conduction, including the heart. When your electrolytes are off, you may experience heart palpitations. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are especially important for heart health.
To ensure you get enough electrolytes, eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you feel as if you’re low on electrolytes, try eating one of these electrolyte-packed foods:
Learn more about how to stay hydrated.
Other stimulants include:
- nicotine or cannabis
- heavy alcohol use
- some cough and cold medications
- appetite suppressants
- several mental health medications
- illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or other amphetamines
Hawthorn is a flowering plant that grows around the world. Historical uses for hawthorn include treating heart, digestive, and kidney problems.
More recently, research has focused on how hawthorn affects heart failure. A 2004 study noted that trial participants who used the hawthorn berry extract had fewer heart palpitations than those who did not.
The Valsalva maneuver increases the pressure inside your chest and abdomen, slowing your heart rate.
To perform the Valsalva maneuver, pretend to blow up a balloon or bear down for a bowel movement. You can sit or lie down while you do this technique.
Some people like to tightly wrap their lips around their thumb and blow against it as hard as they can without allowing air to escape. You can try this a few times, taking regular breaths in between.
Learn how to perform the Valsalva maneuver.
Include heart-healthy foods such as:
- healthy fats and oils
Avoid foods high in saturated fats and fatty meats. Cut back on sodium and look for foods that contain less salt or are low in sodium.
Some people notice increased heart palpitations when they have low blood sugar. Others notice heart palpitations when they consume high amounts of sugar. It is important to pay attention to your body.
Learn more about 9 heart-healthy foods.
During stress, your adrenal glands release adrenaline, stimulating your fight-or-flight response. When your body is frequently under stress, your heart may respond with palpitations.
Research shows that anxiety is often a trigger for palpitations. While it is not practical to take away all stress, there are ways to reduce or manage it:
- planning ahead
- prioritizing tasks
- preparing for stressful situations
- taking time to relax
- exercising and following a balanced diet
- Talking with friends, family, or a professional about your stress
Read more about how to manage stress.
Regular exercise helps promote a healthy heart. The American Heart Association suggests weekly 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. This includes activities such as:
- brisk walking
- playing tennis
If you notice that certain activities result in more heart palpitations, try doing other exercises instead, such as yoga or Pilates.
Heart palpitations do not always require treatment, and people may find they have different triggers.
Pay attention to your body and what things may trigger palpitations. You might find it helpful to record your daily dietary intake, exercise, and stress level.
Let your medical professional know if you are having palpitations. They may not be able to determine the cause, but they can rule out serious heart conditions.
Seek emergency medical care if you experience:
To diagnose what is going on, your medical professional will ask questions about your symptoms, medical history, and current medications. To assess your heart, they may run a series of tests.
An EKG shows the electrical activity in your heart. A doctor may request a monitor to record your heart during usual daily activities.
Most of the time, heart palpitations are manageable by decreasing foods, substances, or stresses that trigger the palpitations.
Sometimes people with palpitations need medication or undergo an ablation procedure.
Heart palpitations are fast, irregular heartbeats. They may feel like skipped beats or as if your heart is flip-flopping or fluttering. They can be anxiety-inducing but, most of the time, are harmless.
If you experience heart palpitations, eat a balanced diet and avoid foods and substances that may be triggering. Decreasing stress, staying hydrated, and regular exercise can improve heart health.
If you are experiencing palpitations for several minutes, try performing a vagal or Valsalva maneuver to stop the palpitations.
Seek medical attention if you have concerns about your palpitations. Your medical professional can perform tests to check for serious cardiac problems. Most palpitations do not require treatment, but some may need medications or a heart procedure.