Heart palpitations can be rather unsettling the first time you experience them. But they're mostly just a response to a trigger, according to the Mayo Clinic, that prompts the heart to react in this manner. It could be from too much caffeine, too much nicotine, too much exercise or too much stress. Some people even experience heart palpitations from a prescription medication. It really just depends on the person what is actually causing the heart to undergo palpitations.
The actual sensation of the heart palpitations will vary slightly from person to person. For some, it may feel as if the heart is actually fluttering inside their chest. For others, it may feel as if the heart is in fact skipping a beat. Sometimes, it may manifest as a fairly rapid heart rhythm. Other times, it may feel as if the heart is pumping or working harder than normal.
While the chest is probably the most common location where the palpitations will be felt, it isn't the only place within the body where a person will sense this triggered response. In some people, they may ultimately feel this flutter, pounding, racing or skipping within their throat or neck. It's still the same reaction the heart is having to some sort of stimulus; it's just being felt in a different location.
Heart palpitations are essentially a reaction to a trigger, be it a substance, an activity or an emotion. While there is usually some sort of factor that elicits this sort of response from your heart, these palpitations can hit you at almost any time. You may be active or at rest. You may be sitting or reclining. You may be standing around doing the dishes, and the palpitations will hit you.
Since no two people are really alike, the triggers for heart palpitations will vary greatly from person to person. Some people have caffeine (in any quantity) as a trigger. Others have nicotine dealing out this sort of response. Exercise may bring about these palpitations for you. Or it may be a prescription medication, like pseudoephedrine or bronchodilators. Women can experience heart palpitations as a symptom of menopause, pregnancy or menstruation. And, of course, stress can bring on these palpitations as well.
Most of the time, the palpitations you're experiencing will be undisruptive and undamaging to the actual heart, according to the Mayo Clinic. You may not need to respond in any way other than removing the trigger from your life. Once the trigger is removed, the heart palpitations should go away. But if these palpitations are accompanied by other symptoms, you should respond in a different way. When heart palpitations are coupled with chest pain, a shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, you should contact a doctor immediately. It could be a sign of a serious cardiovascular condition.