What does it mean when my heart flutters?

Heart palpitations are a feeling of one’s heart fluttering, skipping a beat or beating too hard and fast. There are a number things that can cause this sensation. It could be simple stress or you could have an irregular heartbeat. With the palpitations, do you feel shortness of breath? Are you having trouble breathing with every day activities like climbing stairs? Do you feel dizzy? If you’re experiencing these additional symptoms or your palpitations are concerning you, call your doctor to schedule an exam.

Dr. Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Practitioner

When your heart feels like it's jumping around, skipping beats, or fluttering, doctors call that palpitations. If you are experiencing palpitations, you may worry that you are going to have a heart attack. The good news is that the vast majority of the time, early or skipped heart beats cause nothing more than the simple sensation of a heart hiccup. They are not dangerous, and do not lead to additional problems. (Of course, you need to check with your doctor about your symptoms to be sure you are not in the percentage that has a truly concerning arrhythmia, but be reassured this is uncommon.)

Now, if your heart hiccups are also associated with increasing shortness of breath or trouble exercising, that's a different ball game, so head to your doctor now to be checked out.

Heart attack symptoms rarely involve any type of flipping sensations. Palpitations most often occur without any other types of discomfort and may occur in healthy young people as well as those medically challenged.

Dr. Kalyanam Shivkumar, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Occasional heart flutters may indicate that there are extra or skipped beats, or an arrhythmia in the upper (atrial) or lower (ventricular) chamber of the heart. Talking with a cardiologist or arrhythmia specialist, and obtaining an ECG, heart monitor and echocardiogram will usually provide a diagnosis. As there are many different arrhythmias, the treatment will need to be individualized.

Continue Learning about Arrhythmia

Concerned about Afib? Get Aggressive about Losing Weight
Concerned about Afib? Get Aggressive about Losing Weight
Some people describe a surge of romantic passion as your heart “skipping a beat,” but if your doctor tells you this, it may mean you have (or are he...
Read More
Can the heart beat irregularly even with a pacemaker or an ICD?
Robert J. Subbiondo, MDRobert J. Subbiondo, MD
A heartbeat can still be irregular after a pacemaker or ICD is inserted, says Robert Subbiondo, MD, ...
More Answers
What is catheter ablation for the heart?
West Valley Medical CenterWest Valley Medical Center
A catheter ablation is a procedure to go through the vessels to enter the heart and fix an arrhythmi...
More Answers
What Are Some Common Issues with Heart Rhythms?
What Are Some Common Issues with Heart Rhythms?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.