A cardiologist explains what it means to often feel your heartbeat in your chest.

This doesn’t refer to feeling your heart beating in your chest after you just did 20 squat jumps or ran hard on a treadmill.

This is about when this occurs in the absence of physical exertion—and anxiety, of course, which could really get the heart thumping good.

“Patients will commonly describe an abnormal sensation of feeling their heartbeat in the chest or an unpleasant awareness of your own heartbeat,” says Chester M. Hedgepeth, III, MD, PhD, Executive Chief of Cardiology at Care New England.

“This can be quite distracting.  Fortunately, this is usually a benign finding.

“This sensation can be due to either forceful beating of the heart or due to increase in the heart rate (greater than 100 bpm while sitting still).”

Causes of Feeling Your Heart in Your Chest

Remember, that’s where this organ is located. Dr. Hedgepeth explains, “Forceful beating of the heart and/or increased heart rates leading to palpitations may be caused by anxiety, stress, panic attack or fear.

“Increased caffeine, nicotine levels or other stimulant use (e.g., diet pills, amphetamines, cocaine) are also associated with these types of palpitations.” The so-called energy drinks can also produce this effect.

“Recent exercise and fever are common causes.  Patients who might be dehydrated for any reason will often describe these types of symptoms.”

  • Fill up on more water and less of the energy drinks.
  • Cut back on caffeine; replace the diet pills with portion control and more exercise. Then see what happens.

If you feel your heart beating in your chest, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re feeling palpitations or PVCs.

In fact, the beating may be quite steady and even-paced. In other words, you have no fluttering, but instead, just that strong awareness or sensation of a beating heart. The rate may be normal, too.

The more anxious you get over feeling your heartbeat in your chest–remember, the more this will make you “feel” it.

Dr. Hedgepeth also serves as a physician in the cardiovascular division and arrhythmia service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, plus is an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/Theerapol Pongkangsananan