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Pounding Heart Beat Causes

There are numerous pounding heart beat causes including high level of physical activity, anxiety disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, panic attack, panic disorder, certain medications / drugs / substances and many more. Learn some of the causes in this article. For causes of extra heart beats, please refer to this article: Extra Heartbeat Causes.

A pounding heart is a sensation of the heart that beats, pulsates, throbs or races rapidly and heavily. The pounding sensation of the heart beats can be felt in the throat, chest as well as in the neck. The pulse rate will depend on the pounding of heart. Most heart pounding symptoms are not serious but you will need to address it as soon as possible if the heart palpitations are related to an abnormal heart rhythm disorder.

There are several pounding heart beat causes. A pounding heart beat is very normal during exercise or high level of physical activity. It is also common in people who are in stressful jobs. Some people may also experience heart pounding after eating.

Other possible causes of pounding heart beat include generalized anxiety disorder, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, panic attack and panic disorder.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease of the heart muscle (myocardium) in which a portion of myocardium becomes thick (hypertrophied) due to unknown cause. The thickening forces the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The symptoms of HCM include shortness of breath (dyspnea), chest pain, pounding heart beat, lightheadedness, dizziness, fatigue, hypertension, fainting and sudden cardiac death.

HCM is a significant cause of sudden cardiac death and disabling cardiac symptoms in any age group. It is also a leading cause of death in young athletes. HCM is usually passed down through families (inherited) thus it is advisable to have all family members tested as soon as possible once HCM is detected.

Diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is done through a physical exam. Depends on the result of the physical exam, other tests may be performed including heart monitor, cardiac catheterization, chest x-ray, ECG, Echocardiography, MRI of the heart and transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE).

Panic attack

A panic attack is a sudden intense fear followed by an overwhelming feeling of danger. It is often accompanied by anxiety, trembling, shaking, nausea, chest pain, light-headedness, sweating, rapid breathing, pounding heart beat and a sense of unreality. It may feel like you are having a heart attack.

An attack can occur at anytime and it can interfere with day-to-day activities. It usually peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last much longer. It usually develops to panic disorder during the late teens and early adulthood, and may afflict twice as many women as men. However, not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder.

Panic disorder

The primary symptom of panic disorders would be periods where the patient undergoes extreme anxiety. These periods are often known as panic attacks and are easily mistaken for signs of someone developing an anxiety disorder. The duration can cause the physical symptoms to vary from patient to patient and, in some cases, from attack to attack. An increased heart rate, excessive perspiration, uncontrollable trembling, pounding heart beat and nausea have all been cited as physical signs of a panic attack. The frequency of these attacks can vary from patient to patient, with some experiencing attacks daily while others endure them on a weekly basis. An untreated panic disorder can possibly lead to substance abuse, depression and, in rare cases, even suicide.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a state of mind wherein a person experiences a number of emotions at the same time such as nervousness, fear, uneasiness, worry to name a few. This is accompanied by physical symptoms such as pounding heart beat, headache, unsettled stomach, chest pain and the like. When this anxiety extends for a prolonged period it may develop to anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder is of different types include panic disorders, kinds of phobias like agoraphobia (which is the fear of being in a social setting), stress disorder, social anxiety, etc.

Taking certain drugs or medications i.e. mazindol is also one of the possible pounding heart beat causes.


Mazindol is a central nervous system stimulant which increases the heart rate and blood pressure and decreases the appetite. It marketed under the brand names Mazanor and Sanorex.

Mazindol is used as supplement to diet and exercise in the treatment of obesity although may be used for other purposes too. It works by suppressing the appetite. It’s categorized as a short-term supplement in the treatment of obesity. This is because the appetite-reducing effect tends to degrade after a few weeks treatment thus it is effective only during the first few weeks of a weight-loss program.

Possible side effects of mazindol include pounding heart beat, very high blood pressure, severe headache, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue or face and confusion.

Taking too much of mazindol may lead to symptoms such as restlessness, tremor, rapid breathing, confusion, hallucinations, panic, aggressiveness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, an irregular heartbeat, and seizures.


Metaxalone (marketed under the brand name Skelaxin) is a muscle relaxant used along with rest and physical therapy to relax muscles and relieve pain associated with strains, sprains, and other muscle injuries.

Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness and irritability. In some patients, it may cause pounding heart beat, difficulty breathing, severe skin rash, bruising or bleeding, tiredness and seizures.

Finally, there are many other possible pounding heart beat causes. Most of the time they are harmless, however if there is a regular occurrence of heart pounding then you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible. A pounding heart beat accompanied by chest pain might be a sign of heart disorder thus proper check up should be done. If the heart palpitations happen very rarely, you can just ignore them.

Disclaimer: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.