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Have a feeling of rapid heartbeat under the rib cage and heart. No medication till now. What could be it?

Sometimes I get what feels like a rapid heartbeat to the left of the sternum (under the heart), beneath or under the ribcage. It is very rapid and only lasts a few seconds, but it concerns me. I do not think it is my heart, because it usually happens in calm situations, so my heartbeat should be half that fast or less. It happens many times when I lean back in my chair in class, putting pressure on my back. I have been smoking for about 5 years so I'm worried it could be something bad, please help! I'm otherwise healthy, 21, skinny, have been exercising for about 2 months
Asked On : Sun, 7 Apr 2013
Answers:  1 Views:  34
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General & Family Physician 's  Response
Hello, and welcome to Healthcare Magic!

You are describing palpitations (being aware of the feeling of the heart beating, or beating rapidly). Because you are young and otherwise healthy, it is unlikely that this problem is being caused by a serious heart condition. But it still warrants a visit to your primary care doctor to be examined. It is very likely that smoking is causing this problem, or that it could be related to periods of anxiety. In any case, even if the smoking is not the cause, you should stop smoking now before it begins to have negative effect on your heart. Also, if you do any illegal drugs such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, or other "uppers" they could be causing this symptom.

Keep exercising, stop smoking, and go see a doctor who can examine you for signs of heart problems.

I hope I have provided you with some useful information, and wish you the best of health.


Dr. Kinney
Answered: Thu, 25 Apr 2013
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