Why Is My Heart Racing? Here’s What You Need to Know

A male doctor is listening to the heart of an older male patient in an exam room.


Has nervousness or excitement ever caused you to feel like your heart was racing or beating out of your chest? This normal sensation happens to millions of people each year for various reasons.

Not often linked to a serious underlying condition or heart issue, a racing heart can be a symptom or effect of an emotional state or feeling.

In other, less common cases, a racing heart could be the first sign of an irregular heartbeat caused by a heart-related condition.

Either way, it is vital to understand exactly why your heart could be racing so that you can seek proper care if necessary.

Let’s explore the cause and links to a racing heart in more detail.

What Are Heart Palpitations?

Commonly referred to as a racing heart, heart palpitations are a feeling of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart.

Although the onset of heart palpitations can be surprising and somewhat worrisome, they’re usually not linked to anything serious.


Heart palpitations differ from person to person but can feel like the heart is

  • Beating rapidly
  • Flip-flopping
  • Fluttering
  • Pounding
  • Skipping beats

It is important to note that although they’re discussed as a heart feeling, they can also be felt in the throat and neck and chest.

People with heart palpitations can experience them during activity and rest periods.


There is often no direct link between heart palpitations and specific causes or conditions. Many times, after diagnostic testing, such as an EKG, doctors cannot find any heart-related issues that would cause the palpitations.

Some common outside causes include:

  • Stress
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy or menopause
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Stimulant drugs
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • A thyroid-related hormonal imbalance

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


If your heart palpitations are caused by a specific heart-related condition, complications could include

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Fainting

How Do You Diagnose and Treat a Racing Heart?

If you experience heart palpitations often, we recommend consulting your doctor for further evaluation and diagnosis.

After performing a physical examination, a doctor may recommend additional testing to rule out any heart-related conditions. The most common testing for heart racing includes

  • An EKG — Echocardiogram or EKG is a quick and painless way to monitor your heart rhythms. It works by testing the electrical activity of your heart using electrodes placed on various parts of your body via sticky patches. Wires from the electrodes are connected to a monitor that displays your heart activity. An EKG can alert the doctor if your heart is beating too fast, too slow or out of sync.
  • A Holter Monitor — A portable EKG monitor worn to measure your heart’s electrical activity over a few days. It is most often used to detect heart palpitations that may not have occurred during the office exam.
  • Event Recording — If your EKG and Holter monitoring return normal, your doctor may request event monitoring. Typically worn for extended periods, it tracks your heart rhymes and allows you to press a button to record specific periods when you feel heart palpitations.
  • An Echocardiogram — A noninvasive monitoring device that uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart in motion. It can show blood flow and structure problems with the heart.

When to Visit Getwell Urgent Care for Heart Racing

If you are experiencing heart palpitations regularly or have concerns about a racing heart, we can help. Visit Getwell Urgent Care today to determine when you need an EKG.

Our team of compassionate medical professionals is here to help with your heart-related needs seven days a week. No appointment is necessary; simply walk in.