Can You Feel Your Heartbeat by Touching Your Chest?

If you ask people to put a hand on their heart, they will most often place it on the left side of the chest. The heart, however, is much more centrally placed than that. It is actually between the right and left lungs, in the middle of the chest, and only slightly to the left. Many people can feel their heartbeat in their chest, especially after strenuous exercise, but this is not the case for everyone.


Your heart is centrally placed, but it tends to lean left, so the heartbeat movement is aimed into the left side of the chest, according to PBS Nova Online. Since the beat you feel is displaced to the left side of the chest, that's where you should be feeling for the heartbeat.

Apex Beat

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Doctors often feel for your heartbeat when they do a physical examination. The location of a particular aspect of your heartbeat, what is called the apex beat, tells them if the heart is enlarged or displaced. If you cannot feel your heartbeat simply with a flat hand over the chest, or cannot reliably identify the cause of a vibration, then the apex beat might still be noticeable. This beat is normally on a vertical line from the middle of your collarbone in the area below the nipple. Your doctor will find it by counting down to the space between the fifth and sixth ribs.


A bare chest or a single layer of clothing allows a heartbeat to be felt much more easily. If the person is slim, the heartbeat will be easier to feel than if the person is heavy, as the slimmer person has less fat to muffle the vibration. Certain medical conditions, like the chronic lung disease emphysema, can also muffle the feel of the heartbeat. On rare occasions, a person may have been born with the heart on the opposite side of the body, a condition called dextrocardia.


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Many people have heart murmurs, which are extra noises the heart makes on top of the normal sounds that represent heart valves opening and closing, according to Kidshealth by Nemours. The strongest types of murmurs can be felt sometimes if you place a hand on the person's chest, as they produce a sort of rumbling. Heart murmurs can be a sign of heart problems, according to Kidshealth by Nemours, but most of the time they are harmless.