Heart palpitations can cause a sensation of a pounding heart or a racing pulse. Palpitations can also feel like a fluttering feeling in the chest or like the heart has skipped a beat. While medical attention may be necessary, some home remedies can help to stop palpitations.
Do you ever feel like your heart is pounding or fluttering much faster than normal? Maybe it’s like your heart is skipping beats, or you feel your pulse in your neck and chest. You may be experiencing heart palpitations.
Heart palpitations may last for only a few seconds, and they can occur at any time. This includes when you’re moving around, sitting or lying down, or standing still.
The good news is that not all cases of fast heartbeat mean you have a heart condition. Sometimes the palpitations are caused by things that make your heart work harder, like:
Other causes may include:
- other medical conditions
- certain medications
- illegal drugs
- tobacco products
Regular exercise is important for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.
Cardio doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, brisk walks have a host of health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health.
Reduce stress levels
Stress and a rapid heart rate tend to go hand-in-hand. As such, reducing your stress levels as much as possible can help lower your heart rate. It can also lower your risk of high blood pressure and other stress-related health issues.
There are a number of effective strategies for reducing stress. Some include:
- practicing mindfulness
- trying deep breathing
- going to therapy
- watching your caffeine intake
- exercising daily
Eat a balanced diet
A nutritious, balanced diet consists of:
- fresh fruits
- whole grains
- lean proteins
- healthy fats from nuts or fish
Limit these foods to lower your risk of heart problems:
- saturated fats
- trans fats
- processed or packaged foods
Do valsalva maneuvers
A valsalva maneuver is a breathing technique that can help restore a normal heart rate if your heart is beating too quickly.
To perform a valsalva maneuver, do the following steps in order:
- Pinch your nose.
- Close your mouth.
- Attempt to exhale.
- Bear down, as if having a bowel movement.
- Perform these steps for 10 to 15 seconds.
Try hawthorn berry extract
Hawthorn berry extract is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine and has been used to help with digestive issues and high blood pressure. Hawthorn berry extract may also be able to help reduce heart palpitations.
An older two-year-long cohort study separated 952 study participants with heart failure into several groups. One would receive hawthorn extract as an add-on therapy, one group would use only hawthorn extract, and the last group would receive therapy without hawthorn.
The study found that those who used hawthorn berry extract on its own had reduced heart palpitations compared with the participants who did not receive hawthorn at all.
However, the National Institutes of Health reports that there is conflicting evidence on hawthorn’s effect, and it may increase the progression of heart disease.
Hawthorn may interact with heart medications, so talk with your doctor before taking hawthorn extract. Hawthorn is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding and should not be given to children.
When choosing herbal approaches, research your source of hawthorn, as herbs are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There may be concerns about quality, mislabeling, or contamination.
There are many substances that may make you more likely to have a fast heartbeat. Eliminating these things from your daily routine may lessen or even stop your symptoms. They include:
- caffeinated beverages and foods
- tobacco products or cannabis
- heavy alcohol use
- certain cold and cough medications
- appetite suppressants
- drugs used to treat mental health conditions
- high blood pressure medications
- illegal drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, or other amphetamines
Your own triggers will likely be unique to you. Try keeping a list of the things you consume that may cause your heart palpitations. If possible, avoid any items you think may be causing your symptoms and see if your symptoms stop.
Before stopping any prescription medications, talk with your doctor if you think prescription medications may be causing your symptoms.
Restore electrolyte balance
Electrolytes help move electrical signals throughout your body. Electrical signals are important for the proper functioning of your heart. Some electrolytes that can benefit your heart health include:
Most of these electrolytes are best obtained from foods. Some great sources of potassium are:
- sweet potatoes
To increase your intake of calcium, eat more dark leafy greens and dairy products. Dark leafy greens are also a great source of magnesium, and so are nuts and fish.
Most people get enough sodium in their diet with packaged foods such as deli meats and canned soups.
Supplements may help maintain your electrolyte balance, but talk with a doctor before taking any new supplements.
Too many electrolytes can cause problems. If you suspect you may have an imbalance, your doctor can test your urine and blood to confirm.
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Drink enough water
Dehydration can cause heart palpitations. That’s because your blood contains water, so when you become dehydrated, your blood can become thicker. The thicker your blood is, the harder your heart has to work to move it through your veins. That can increase your pulse rate and potentially lead to palpitations.
If you feel your pulse climb, reach for a glass of water. If you notice your urine is dark yellow, drink more fluids to prevent palpitations.
Do vagal maneuvers
The vagus nerve has many functions, including connecting your brain to your heart. Vagal maneuvers stimulate the vagus nerve and may help regulate fast heartbeat. You can stimulate the vagus nerve at home, but you should get a doctor’s approval first.
Here are a few ways you can stimulate the nerve:
- Take a cold shower, splash cold water on your face, or apply a cold towel or ice pack to your face for 20 to 30 seconds. The “shock” of the cold water helps stimulate the nerve.
- Chant the word “om” or cough or gag.
- Hold your breath or bear down like you’re having a bowel movement.
For best results, perform these maneuvers while laying on your back. Your doctor can show you how to perform them correctly.
Try relaxation techniques
Stress can trigger or worsen heart palpitations. That’s because stress and excitement can spike your adrenaline.
Managing your stress through relaxation can help. Good options include:
- tai chi
Try sitting cross-legged and taking a slow breath in through your nostrils and then out through your mouth. Repeat until you feel calm.
You should also focus on relaxing throughout the day, not just when you feel palpitations or a racing heart. Stop and take five deep breaths every 1 to 2 hours to help calm your mind and keep you relaxed.
Keeping your general stress levels low can help you avoid episodes of fast heartbeat and lower your resting heart rate over time. Biofeedback and guided imagery are also effective options.
In many cases of heart palpitations, no treatment is necessary. Instead, you should pay attention to when you’re experiencing palpitations and avoid activities, foods, or anything else that brings them on.
You may find it helpful to write down when you experience palpitations to see if you can identify a trigger. Keeping a log may also be useful if you experience more palpitations over time. You can take this information to your doctor at future appointments.
If your doctor identifies a cause of your palpitations, they may recommend treatment. For example, if your diagnostic tests uncover that you have heart disease, your doctor will move forward with a treatment plan in that area.
Treatment options for heart disease may include medications, surgery, or implantation of a device like a pacemaker.
Heart palpitations are common, and they often last for a few seconds. The tips listed above can help to stop palpitations and reduce their occurrence.
Speak to a doctor if the sensation lasts for longer than a few seconds. This may indicate an underlying condition that requires treatment.