Heart palpitations during pregnancy can cause your heart to pound, flutter, race or skip a beat. These irregular heartbeats can be alarming, but they aren’t usually harmful. Palpitations result from increased blood in the body and hormonal shifts during pregnancy. To prevent palpitations, stay hydrated and avoid caffeine.
Heart palpitations cause your heart to feel like it’s pounding, racing or beating too quickly. Your heart rate might speed up, slow down or skip a beat. Some people feel like they have an extra heartbeat.
Heart palpitations in pregnancy are very common. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases significantly. Your heart works harder to pump the extra blood throughout your body and to the fetus. This extra work can result in heart palpitations.
Although they can be alarming, most pregnancy heart palpitations aren’t dangerous. They usually go away after delivery. Less commonly, heart palpitations can be a sign of a serious health problem, such as arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). If you have palpitations along with chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness or confusion, get immediate medical help.
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It’s very common to have heart palpitations during pregnancy. They are especially common as people move into their third trimester and the fetus continues to grow. As it gets bigger, it needs additional blood to stay healthy.
If you had an arrhythmia or other type of heart disease before you got pregnant, you’re more likely to have symptoms during pregnancy. They may happen more often or worsen while you’re pregnant.
Symptoms of heart palpitations include:
During pregnancy, many changes happen that affect your entire body, including your heart and blood vessels. Over the course of pregnancy, your blood volume increases by almost 50%. This means your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. It sends much of this blood to your growing fetus. Your heart rate speeds up to get the job done.
Many factors can increase your risk of heart palpitations when you’re pregnant. They include:
Less commonly, heart palpitations result from a health condition or disorder, including:
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and listen to your heart. To check for an underlying condition, they may recommend a blood test (complete blood count or CBC). This test looks for anemia, infections and vitamin deficiencies. It can also detect problems with your thyroid.
To monitor your heart rate and check for heart disease, they may do an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). This test measures your heart rate using sensors that attach to your skin. It usually takes about 15 minutes. Your provider may ask you to lie down. Or they might ask you to do light exercise (such as walking on a treadmill) during the test. It is safe to perform this test during pregnancy.
Many times, an EKG doesn’t detect heart palpitations. You might not have an irregular heartbeat during the test. If this happens, your provider may recommend an ambulatory electrocardiogram such as a Holter monitor. You wear this device for up to two weeks as you go about your daily activities. It records your heart rate (and any irregular heartbeats) and stores the information for your provider to review.
Most of the time, heart palpitations during pregnancy don’t require treatment. If they only happen occasionally and don’t result from a heart condition or other health problem, your provider may recommend diet and lifestyle changes. These include:
If you have a heart condition or other health condition that’s causing palpitations, your provider will develop a treatment plan that’s safe for you and your fetus. Treatments vary depending on the cause.
Sometimes, providers prescribe a type of medicine called beta blockers to treat palpitations. Your provider will discuss this medication and any other treatments with you. They will help you weigh the benefits of treatments and risks of side effects that might affect your fetus.
You may not be able to prevent heart palpitations during pregnancy, but you can lower your risk. You should:
See your provider regularly. You should schedule frequent visits so your provider can monitor your health and your fetus’s wellbeing. Tell your provider if palpitations get worse.
Most people with heart palpitations during pregnancy don’t require treatment. Palpitations usually go away after delivery. Diet and lifestyle changes, such as eating right and reducing stress, can help most pregnant people manage heart palpitations.
If you have a health condition that’s causing palpitations, talk to your provider. You should work closely with them to develop a treatment plan that is effective and safe for you and your fetus.
Tell your provider about your symptoms. Although it’s rare for heart palpitations during pregnancy to be dangerous, you should talk to your provider so they can monitor your health.
Get help right away if you have heart palpitations and:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Most of the time, heart palpitations during pregnancy aren’t serious. They are a natural result of increased blood flow in your body. But you should tell your provider about heart palpitations, especially if they happen often. In rare cases, a serious health condition may be causing your symptoms. To lower your risk of palpitations, drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine and never drink alcohol while pregnant. Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and relax your body. If you have heart palpitations along with chest pain, trouble breathing or dizziness, get help right away.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/01/2021.
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