Heart palpitations - how dangerous is it?


Many people know the feeling of palpitations. Usually the heart beats regularly and almost unnoticed. Or you can feel the strong heartbeat during physical exertion or excitement. Sometimes you become aware of an irregular heartbeat. This palpitations is caused by so-called extrasystoles.

How dangerous is that

In most cases, extrasystoles are completely harmless and have no disease value: For example, they are triggered by stimulants (coffee, nicotine, alcohol), an active vegetative nervous system or fatigue.
However, a few details must be observed here:
If the palpitations occur over a longer period of time (several minutes to hours), or if there are accompanying symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness or clouded consciousness, a doctor should be consulted.
With special examinations (especially by means of an EKG) he can quickly recognize whether there is a need for action.

The heart stumbling can also be a sign of a heart disease, such as an inflammation of the heart muscle or a calcification of the coronary arteries or it can be triggered by high psychological stress.
Heart stumbling can also be the symptom of a completely different, less dangerous disease, for example an overactive thyroid or electrolyte imbalance. Certain medications can also cause palpitations as a side effect.

Extrasystoles - what is it?

Extrasystoles are extra beats of the heart outside of its normal rhythm. This phenomenon occurs because the heart cells are activated from a different location than is normally the case. Normally, the electrical excitation occurs at the sinus node, which is located in the right atrium of the heart. From there, the electrical excitation propagates through the heart and activates the individual cells like a wave. This causes the heart to contract and pump blood into the body's circulation.

In the case of an extrasystole, this wave of excitation occurs earlier than the next regular beat of the sinus node and at another point in the auricles or the ventricles, an additional heartbeat occurs. After a wave of excitation has occurred, the heart cells are briefly unable to be reactivated. The next beat then starts again from the sinus node and the normal rhythm is recorded. This can cause a short pause between two heartbeats. If the normal rhythm starts again, this manifests itself with the feeling of a palpitation.


Heart stumbling is usually noticeable with a significantly stronger single heartbeat, sometimes this heartbeat is perceived as painful. You may also feel like you're paused, like your heart has skipped a beat. These symptoms can repeat themselves for a few minutes and then go away on their own. Sometimes it lasts for hours or starts again after a while. If you focus very strongly on this feeling because it is uncomfortable or unsettling, it can be intensified. In addition, symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath or decreased performance can occur.

Palpitations can also occur at rest. Other symptoms should be considered. Read the article on this below: Palpitations at rest


From a purely procedural point of view it is not difficult to examine extrasystoles. During the anamnesis interview an attempt is made to find out about the frequency and Duration to be able to make an assessment of the occurrence. It is also important how the accompanying circumstances are presented: Does the heart stumble always occur certain Situations or to specific Times of day on? Are there additional symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, Poor performance (during physical activity) or Impaired consciousness? Certain drugs can also trigger extrasystoles. After the physical examination, among other things, of the heart, i.e. pathological Heart murmurs Listen, Pulse and measure blood pressure, further device-assisted examinations can follow.

Since an extrasystole is a electrical activity of the heart, it can be represented by an EKG. Extrasystoles then appear as a characteristic shape on the examination sheet not permanent Extrasystoles can be difficult to pinpoint the right time so that they are also captured during the examination. If in doubt or to get an overview of the frequency, a Long-term ECG used over 24 hours. Also a Exercise ECG using a bicycle ergometer can be useful when it comes to Exercise-dependent heart palpitations acts. To rule out organic diseases of the heart, an ultrasound of the heart can be performed. Valve disease, Extensions the chambers and atria or the Efficiency of the heart can be determined by means of this examination. An X-ray of the chest or an electrophysiological examination of the heart is also possible, but is more likely to be carried out for further or narrower diagnostics. A blood test can help rule out the other causal diseases mentioned above.


There are various options for treating heart stumbling. Is there a Underlying disease before, should be tried the Fix cause or improve the condition so that the palpitations go away at best. By a drug setting of the heart rhythm is provided for a regular frequency, which is to prevent the extra beats. Because these drugs too Side effects bring with you, it must be clarified beforehand whether a deployment is possible. A desolation of the place of origin in the heart by one Catheter ablation represents a further therapy option. If the extrasystoles occur more by chance other health and are they not perceived as annoying by the person concerned no treatment necessary.

When does heart palpitation become dangerous?

Palpitations can be harmless and can occur in a person without posing a problem or serious illness. If it's the victim not restrict or causes fears, you can live with it. Since extrasystoles can also be a symptom of a disease and not so easily from harmless extrasystoles distinguish you should clarify with a doctor to let. Still exist during the palpitations other symptoms (as mentioned above), it lasts or kicks in for a long time physical exertion it should be clarified by a doctor.

When is heart palpitations dangerous during exercise?

Heart stumbling can also occur during exercise.

During physical exertion such as sporting activity, the body's cardiovascular system is stressed significantly and the organ functions change. For example, a much higher volume of blood is transported through the body in order to supply the muscles with sufficient oxygen. The heart beats faster and stronger. All of these changes have no pathological significance, but are required by the body in order to be able to cope with the increased demands. Occasional extrasystoles or cardiac stumbling also occur in athletes without having any disease value. However, if the heart palpitations occur more frequently or in a seizure manner, if it lasts a long time after the end of the training or if symptoms such as shortness of breath, decreased performance or dizziness occur, it must be clarified by a doctor. A visit to the doctor can also help calm the person concerned. Extrasystoles can become uncomfortable or trigger fears of a serious illness. These may be alleviated by a visit to the doctor or the disease treated.

For detailed information on this topic, see: Heart stumbling during exercise

When is heart stumbling dangerous during pregnancy?

During pregnancy there are many changes in the mother's body so that the body can adapt to the new demands.
For example, that is Blood volume the mother increased in order to be able to optimally care for the child. This increases the pulse and that heart enlarges like one Muscle trainingin order to be able to transport the increased volume.

In almost half of all pregnant women it can be new or intensified, already known Palpitations come.
Just like in the non-pregnant state, this doesn't have to be a sign of one Heart disease be.

Often these form pregnancy-related extrasystoles after birth the child back by itself.
If it's a benign one, well harmless, Palpitations acts, there are no negative effects on the mother or the child.
Nevertheless, the symptoms should be clarified on the one hand serious Arrhythmia to be able to exclude and on the other hand to alleviate insecurities and fears.

You can find further information under our topic: Palpitations during pregnancy.

When is a baby's heart stumbling dangerous?

Even in unborn babies, extrasystoles can occur, which can usually be a worrying thought for the parents-to-be. In most cases set them just like adults harmless Event. Only Rare do they represent a pathological disease value or have serious heart disease as the cause. Palpitations often go away on their own some time after the birth. Nevertheless, one should regular controll the extrasystoles are done to make sure it is up Not is a heart disease.