Why does the heart pause between beatings

Heart stumbling: symptoms, causes, and treatment

Palpitations are a variety of abnormal heart rhythms that can occur without warning. Additional beats bring the heart out of sync. But it doesn't necessarily have to be a serious illness.

But experts warn: Treatment is necessary for certain symptoms.

What is heart palpitations? Origin and symptoms

Heart stumbling is triggered by so-called extrasystoles - extra beats of the heart - outside the normal heart rate. These bring the heartbeat out of sync. Often the additional blows go unnoticed. Others, on the other hand, perceive the extrasystoles as additional knocking, dropouts or a racing heart, known as tachycardia in medical terms. These symptoms can be frightening. However, the phenomenon is widespread among healthy people and is not automatically a cause for concern.

The German Heart Foundation advises, however, that those affected should pay attention if the palpitations or palpitations occur together with other complaints, for example shortness of breath or dizziness. Even if the extra beats last longer than minutes or hours and those affected feel more than ten to fifteen extrasystoles per minute, a visit to the doctor should clarify the causes of the palpitations.

What causes heart palpitations?

According to the German Heart Foundation, extrasystoles in themselves are not dangerous. The heart can often lose its rhythm due to emotional or physical stress. Lack of sleep or feelings of anxiety favor extrasystoles. Alcohol, nicotine, and medication can also cause abnormal heart rhythms.

High blood pressure or an overactive thyroid are also possible causes of heart palpitations. Finally, it is possible that pain in the spine and increased gas formation in the stomach, which is triggered, for example, by Roemheld syndrome, affect the heart rate.

However, the arrhythmia can also be a symptom of a serious heart disease, such as an inflammation of the heart muscle or a heart valve defect. Early detection is essential here in order to avoid life-threatening consequences.

Cardiac arrhythmias on the EKG: Atrial fibrillation can trigger a blood clot and lead to a stroke. (Source: wildpixel / Getty Images)

Atrial fibrillation: not always harmless

One of the most common cardiac arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, can also manifest itself in heart stumbling. The atria no longer contract properly. In contrast to the normal heart rhythm, the regular impulses from the sinus node are disturbed. The sinus node is the heart's primary pacemaker center and is involved in the complex regulation of the heart rate. If this is disturbed, fibrillation develops in the atria. The atria can then no longer optimally support the ventricles in their pumping work. In these phases, those affected complain of strong palpitations or rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and, above all, of shortness of breath.

Even if the symptoms seem threatening, atrial fibrillation is not immediately life-threatening. If left untreated and undetected, however, it increases the risk of a stroke. The tricky thing is that this type of cardiac arrhythmia often goes undetected, as those affected often show no symptoms. However, if symptoms occur, a strong heartbeat, heart stumbling and rapid pulse are noticeable as well as drowsiness, dizziness or a feeling of weakness. For this reason, patients should always consult a doctor promptly if they notice changes in the rhythm of their heartbeat.

Heart stumbling: what treatment options are there?

First of all, the doctor should clarify whether the extrasystoles have organic causes. If this is not the case, no special treatment or medication is usually necessary. Another case is when the palpitations are accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, impaired consciousness, angina pectoris or shortness of breath. An ECG can then be useful, with which the causes of heart palpitations and other arrhythmias can often be narrowed down. The blood pressure should also be checked carefully, as increased blood pressure can favor the extrasystoles. Therapy then depends on the causes of the symptoms.

If serious illnesses could be ruled out in the course of the examination, the palpitations can be alleviated by taking potassium or magnesium. Magnesium in particular has a positive influence on the metabolism and the oxygen supply in the cells of the heart muscle. The knowledge that there is no serious illness behind the dropouts also has a calming effect on many sufferers.

It is often possible to reduce the factors that can trigger the palpitations. This is the case when the racing heart is triggered by stress, nicotine or too much caffeine. If the symptoms are caused by stress, a beta blocker is sometimes used in low doses. Drug therapy should always only be carried out with consultation and under the supervision of a doctor. A healthy lifestyle with enough sleep and exercise and a reduction in cigarettes and alcohol can often noticeably alleviate the symptoms.

Why does heart stumble often occur while lying down?

People who suffer from heart palpitations often only notice the dropouts when they are lying down. However, that does not mean that they will only occur. In general, a faster heartbeat triggered by movement tends to favor extrasystoles. But when you are at rest when you lie on your back or on your side, the heartbeat is automatically stronger because the body does not have to pump blood back to the heart against gravity. As a result, the heart is better filled with blood and the heartbeat and the extrasystoles can be better perceived.

Without the distractions of daily chores, people are more focused on their insides when they are at rest. With a slow pulse, extrasystoles are more noticeable than when the body is in motion during everyday stress. People often feel the heartbeat in their ears when they are lying down.

Extrasystoles depending on the sleeping position

The irregular heartbeat often only occurs when the affected person lies on their left or right side. In the former case, the heart, which is on the left side of the body, is pressed against the rib cage. Since this person has sensitive nerves, those affected perceive the heartbeat more strongly than when standing.

Some people experience palpitations while lying down on the right side as well. The causes of the arrhythmias are similar: even when lying on the right side, the heart is pressed against the wall of the chest, whereby the heartbeat and the palpitations are felt correspondingly more strongly.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

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