Cardiology: When does heart palpitations become life-threatening?

Harmless and dangerous racing heart difficult to distinguish

A first date or the excitement before an interview: everyone has a racing heart. We also have a fast pulse when we climb stairs, have sex or do sports. But tachycardia, as doctors call a pulse rate that exceeds 100 beats per minute, can also be pathological. The German Heart Foundation therefore clarifies so that lay people know when it is better to go to the doctor to find out the cause.

When the heart beats faster, excitement or physical exertion is usually the cause, according to the German Heart Foundation. However, if the heart suddenly begins to race for no apparent reason, it is imperative to see a doctor. The heart foundation's checklist also helps in the search for the cause.

Atrial fibrillation often causes rapid heartbeat

Sudden rapid heartbeat is very uncomfortable for those affected and is often accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath or feelings of fear, reports the German Heart Foundation. Such attacks should always be clarified by a doctor, since dangerous heart diseases can be behind them. In the case of atrial fibrillation, for example, the heart rates exceed 140 beats per minute.

"This most common form of cardiac arrhythmia is not acutely dangerous, (...) however, blood clots can form in the atria, which can then trigger a stroke," reports the German Heart Foundation. Around 1.8 million people in Germany are affected by atrial fibrillation.

Read on:

- fibrillation of the heart
- racing heart in the night
- An overview of heart diseases
- stumbling

There is not always cause for concern

Basically, not every racing heart is dangerous. In the case of seizures that suddenly start without any reason and can be ended by maneuvers such as drinking a glass of water, “there is a good chance that the heart will be benign,” the German Heart Foundation said. Although this form of cardiac arrhythmia can be very stressful for those affected, in most cases it can be cured.

Cardiologist examination advised

According to the German Heart Foundation, people with irregular heartbeats often react with great uncertainty to their complaints. It is difficult for them to assess whether these are harmless or dangerous and how they can be treated. "After a thorough examination of the patient, only a cardiologist can decide whether cardiac arrhythmias are harmless, less harmless or life-threatening," emphasizes the cardiac specialist Professor Dr. med. Thomas Meinertz, CEO of the German Heart Foundation. Patients who experience bouts of rapid heartbeat out of nowhere should urgently have this checked by a doctor. (sb, fp)

Author and source information

Video: Heart Palpitations: When Is It Serious? (January 2022).