Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pulse checks stimulants stress warning signs Prevention Underlying Cause Anatomy

Palpitations Home Care

Home care for palpitations includes:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Avoid decongestant medications.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Learn how to take your own pulse.
  • If you have high blood pressure:
    • Learn how to take your blood pressure.
    • Check your blood pressure every day.
    • Keep a log of your results.
  • Take prescription medications as directed.

Palpitations Pulse Checks

If you have recurrent palpitations it is important to learn how monitor your pulse at home.

The pulse may be taken in a few locations, but the most commonly used location is the wrist.

Locations for Taking a Pulse

  • Wrist: the radial artery is located in the wrist crease, on the thumb-side. This is an excellent place to measure the pulse.
  • Neck: the carotid artery lies on either side of the Adam's apple, just in front of the large muscle in the neck. Check the pulse on one side only: never press on both carotid arteries at the same time.
  • Elbow: the brachial artery is located in the elbow crease, on the inner aspect of the elbow, next to the bicep tendon.
  • Groin: the femoral artery is located in the crease between the thigh and the abdomen, halfway between the pubic hair and the hip.
  • Ankle: the posterior tibial artery is located on the inside of the ankle, right behind the prominent bone, called the medial malleolus, on the inside aspect of the ankle.

In order to feel the pulse, place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the artery, and then press gently. Do not obstruct the flow through the vessel.

Interpreting Pulse Results
Count the number of pulsations that occur over 20 seconds, and then multiply this number by three. The result is the heart rate, or number of heartbeats per minute.

When measuring the pulse, try to assess the rate and the rhythm. Take note of an unsteady rhythm or extra beats. Report a rapid heart rate or extra beats to your doctor.

Normal Values for Resting Pulse
Age RangeAverage Beats Per Minute
1 month120-130
6 months120-130
1-2 years110-120
2-3 years100-110
4-5 years95-105
6-8 years90-100
10-12 years85-95
14 years75-85

Palpitations Stimulants

Palpitations will often worsen with the consumption of foods and drugs that stimulate the heart.

Avoid common stimulants and substances such as:

Caffeine is a very common stimulant that is present in a variety of beverages. Avoiding caffeine is important for most people with cardiac arrhythmias.

Caffeine Content in Beverages
BeverageCaffeine Content
8 ounce cup (240 cc) of brewed (drip) coffee65 to 120 mg
8 ounce cup (240 cc) of instant coffee60 to 85 mg
8 ounce cup (240 cc) of decaf coffee2 to 4 mg
1 ounce (30 cc) of expresso30 to 50 mg
8 ounce (240 cc), brewed US tea25 to 110
8 ounce (240 cc), brewed imported tea24 to 31 mg
Instant iced tea9 to 50 mg
Caffeinated 8 ounce (240 cc) soft drink20 to 40 mg
Cocoa, 8 ounce cup (240 cc)3 to 32 mg
Chocolate milk, 8 ounce cup (240 cc)2 to 7 mg

Palpitations Stress

Tips to manage stress and palpitations:

  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Allow yourself to experience simple pleasures that give you joy.
  • Ask for help if you need it.
  • Associate with people you enjoy and who treat you well.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Do not be dominated by one thing, such as work or relationships.
  • Do not feel guilty when you have to say "no" to extra duties or tasks.
  • Donate some of your time in order to help others.
  • Energize your body with regular exercise.
  • Engage in hobbies.
  • Fuel your body with healthy foods
  • Have the courage to be imperfect.
  • Make a list of all the stresses that cause you distress: dispose of the ones you can and reduce your exposure to the others as much as possible.
  • Practice relaxation and meditation.
  • Reevaluate and rearrange your priorities.
  • Schedule time for fun. Laughter dissolves tension.
  • Seek professional help when you are overwhelmed.
  • Stay on a regular sleep schedule.
  • Take a few minutes of quiet time each day.
  • Take responsibility for how you feel.
  • Talk with someone you trust.
  • Avoid stimulants, such as:

Palpitations Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have palpitations and any of the following:

Continue to Palpitations Prevention

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Palpitations References
  1. Abbott AV. Diagnostic approach to palpitations. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Feb 15;71(4):743-50. [15742913]
  2. Mayou R. Chest pain, palpitations and panic. J Psychosom Res. 1998 Jan;44(1):53-70. [9483464]
  3. Nehgme R. Recent developments in the etiology, evaluation, and management of the child with palpitations. Curr Opin Pediatr. 1998 Oct;10(5):470-5. [9818242]
  4. Summerton N, Mann S, Rigby A, Petkar S, Dhawan J. New-onset palpitations in general practice: assessing the discriminant value of items within the clinical history. Fam Pract. 2001 Aug;18(4):383-92. [11477045]
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