Heart palpitations are the feeling that your heart’s beating more rapidly or forcefully than usual, or that it’s fluttering. This sensation can be concerning at any time of day but can be especially unsettling when you lay down to go to sleep at night and feel an unusual pulse in your chest, neck, or head.
The good news is that heart palpitations usually aren’t a cause for concern. However, in rare instances, they can be a symptom of an underlying problem such as a heart attack, hyperthyroidism, tachycardia, cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, or others.
So, it’s important to be aware of heart palpitations at night or any time, and talk with your doctor if you have other symptoms along with the palpitations. They may also be able to help if the palpitations simply create stress for you and you want to learn about preventing them.
What Causes Heart Palpitations?
Heart palpitations can be caused by a variety of activities, substances, underlying medical conditions, and other triggers. This includes:
- Vigorous exercise or other physical activity
- Eating rich foods (including chocolate) or those containing monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Consuming alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or recreational drugs
- Taking medications for conditions like colds, asthma, or thyroid issues
- Stress or any strong emotion
- Overactive thyroid
- Low blood pressure
- Fatigue or sleep deprivation
- Hormone changes
- Depression or anxiety
- Low blood sugar level
- Heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
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How Are Heart Palpitations Treated?
Heart palpitations that aren’t caused by an underlying medical condition typically aren’t treated. They tend to go away on their own in a matter of minutes. If an underlying condition is the cause of heart palpitations, your doctor knows about them, and the other health issue is being managed, you can be confident that the abnormal sensations aren’t harmful.
If you discover what triggers your heart palpitations at night, avoiding that activity or substance can help prevent them. For example, if eating chocolate in the evening causes your heart to flutter when you go to bed, you can refrain from doing that or enjoy some chocolate earlier in the day.
The best way to identify your heart palpitation trigger or triggers is to keep a notebook about the episodes you experience. You should record the day and time of each episode, how long it lasted, what you were feeling physically and emotionally before and after the episode, what you ate and drank that day, and anything notable about your activity level that day.
However, if heart palpitations at night are causing you stress even after you’ve taken steps to understand and prevent them, there are tests your doctor can do if they think they’re warranted. These tests include an electrocardiogram, a heart ultrasound, blood work, an exercise stress test, and wearing what’s called a Holter monitor that records information on your heart’s activity, typically for several days.
Learn More About Heart Palpitations at Night from Baptist Health
If you have concerns about heart palpitations at night or any heart-related issues, your Baptist Health doctor is happy to talk with you about them. If you don’t have a Baptist Health doctor, you can find one using our online provider directory.
Next Steps and Useful Resources:
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