The sensation of your heart beating in your chest is called palpitations. In stressful situations your body releases adrenaline, which causes a strong, forceful, regular pounding. This sensation is perfectly normal. Palpitations may also feel like single, momentary irregularities, pauses, or missed heart beats. These are caused by single extra heart beats which arise from the atrium or ventricle, called premature beats. These are also normal and are seen in virtually everybody when tested by 24 hour monitoring. The kinds of palpitations which are more dangerous, and associated with heart diseases, are those that cause a very rapid, sustained heart rhythm. Especially important are tachycardia (rapid rhythms) that cause associated symptoms such as chest pain, dyspnea, dizziness, or fainting. These require the attention of a cardiologist.
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Anthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredPalpitations are often described as a feeling that the heart is skipping, racing, or fluttering. They are not necessarily a sign of heart disease. Most people experience them at least occasionally. But they may be a symptom of a more serious heart condition, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).