Causes of heart palpitations include anxiety and other strong emotions, strenuous exercise, low blood sugar and hypoglycemia, according to WebMD. Other causes include the ingestion of caffeine, amphetamines, nicotine and other drugs, dehydration and thyroid disease. Some women experience palpitations when they are pregnant, during perimenopause or during their period.
Vitamin and herbal supplements may also cause palpitations, according to WebMD. A person whose electrolyte levels are imbalanced may experience heart palpitations. Some people have them after eating foods to which they are sensitive.
Though most cases of palpitations are harmless, they can also be a symptom of cardiovascular disease, claims WebMD. These diseases can include disorders of the coronary arteries, congestive heart failure and problems with the valves or muscles of the heart. People who have already suffered from heart attacks may also experience palpitations.
A person who believes that her heart palpitations are signs of a serious medical condition can undergo several tests, according to Mayo Clinic. The doctor listens to the patient's heartbeat through a stethoscope and takes a medical history. The doctor may also give the patient such tests as an electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram. He may have her wear a Holter monitor, which is a portable EKG device or wear an event recorder. This device allows the patient to push a button whenever she feels a palpitation.