If your heart is beating so fast it feels like it’s about to burst, you could have a serious condition — or it could be nothing to worry about. Here’s what to do.

We all know the feeling of a bounding, fast pulse after exercising or when we’re furious about something. But what if it happens while you’re reading a book or watching TV? A racing pulse can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, from the benign to the serious.

“It depends on the context in which your symptoms appear,” says Helga Van Herle, MD, a cardiologist at Keck Medicine of USC and an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “But, if you feel like you’re going to faint or if you experience lightheadedness, chest pain or sudden shortness of breath while your pulse is racing, you should seek urgent medical attention.”

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Credit: iStock, katleho Seisa

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