What Are the Causes of Palpitations with Dizziness?

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  • Written By: C. Webb
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 March 2019
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Several medical conditions can be responsible for palpitations with dizziness. Palpitations are felt when the heart beats abnormally, which can be too quickly, too slowly, or out of normal rhythm. Accompanying dizziness is typically caused by a sharp drop in blood pressure during the palpitations, which in turn causes a shortage of blood pumped throughout the body Examples of conditions that can cause palpitations with dizziness include taking certain medications, caffeine, atrial fibrillation, heart arrhythmia, and anxiety attacks.

Palpitations are normally felt in the chest, neck, or throat, and are described as pounding or racing heartbeats. These sensations can occur when the patient is exercising, going about daily routines, or simply sitting still. In some cases, the palpitations start slowly and continue to increase, while in other cases they come on suddenly and without warning.

Anxiety is a common cause of palpitations with dizziness. Stress, panic, or fear cause the body to react, which gets the palpitations going. Some people are more prone to anxiety attacks than others. Treatment for anxiety can include stress reduction, caffeine elimination, mental health therapy, and anxiety medication.

Caffeine intake is another common cause of palpitations with dizziness. Foods that contain caffeine include tea, chocolate, coffee, many sodas, and some sports drinks. In addition to foods that can cause palpitations, non-heart related medical conditions such as overactive thyroid, anemia, dehydration, and low blood sugar are sometimes responsible for the problem.


Several medications, including over-the-counter sinus remedies, can cause palpitations with dizziness. Medication designed for coughs and colds, antihistamines, thyroid medications, high blood pressure, and arrhythmia are all known possible culprits of palpitations. Certain nutritional supplements can also cause palpitations.

In addition to such simple causes of palpitations accompanied by dizziness, heart abnormalities can also cause the same symptoms. When the cause is heart related, the patient usually has an accompanying medical condition, such as mitral valve prolapse, heart rhythm issues, or heart disease. Some of these accompanying conditions are serious; others are considered mild.

Diagnosis might involve eliminating any food or medication that can cause palpitations. If that does not correct the problem, the patient is typically referred to a cardiologist for follow-up care. The cardiologist will order tests based on patient symptoms, age, and family medical history. Tests can include medical imaging to check the heart's structure, an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check the heart’s reaction to physical stress, wearing a heart monitor, and blood or urine analysis.

When initial examination indicates a possible heart defect or disorder, more invasive testing may be done. Examples of such testing include an electrophysiology exam or a cardiac catheterization. Once the cause of palpitations is found, treatment can begin. Treatment possibilities include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, blood pressure medication, changes in medications, or surgery.


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