Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

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This Week - P : Palpitations

Heart palpitations are when your heartbeat becomes more noticeable. They're usually harmless, but get help if you keep getting them or you also have other symptoms.

What heart palpitations feel like

When you have heart palpitations, your heartbeat feels uncomfortable or unusual. You may feel it in your chest, neck or throat.

Your heartbeat may feel like it is:

  • racing or beating very fast
  • irregular, with skipped or extra beats (ectopic beats)
  • pounding or thumping
  • fluttering

Heart palpitations can last seconds, minutes or longer.

Causes of heart palpitations

Heart palpitations are common and not usually a sign of anything serious.

Common causes include:

  • strenuous exercise
  • lack of sleep
  • stress and anxiety
  • medicines (check the leaflet that comes with the medicine)
  • taking erection enhancers such as Viagra, Cialis or Levitra
  • alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and recreational drugs

Less often, they can be caused by a condition such as iron deficiency anaemia, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or a heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia).

See a GP if:

You have heart palpitations and:

  • they keep coming back or they're getting worse
  • they last longer than a few minutes
  • you have a heart condition
  • you have a history of heart problems in your family

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

You currently have heart palpitations with any of these symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling faint or fainting

If you've had these symptoms but they've now stopped, ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment, call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Treatment for heart palpitations

Treatment for heart palpitations depends on the cause. They often do not need to be treated.

Avoiding things that can trigger palpitations, such as stress, smoking, caffeine and alcohol, can help.

You may have an electrocardiogram (ECG) to help find out what the cause might be. This is a test where small pads are stuck to your skin to check the electrical signals coming from your heart.

If your palpitations are caused by a heart problem, you may need medicines or a procedure to help correct your heartbeat.

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We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.


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