Palpitations are fatal

Correct behavior in case of a racing heart

Mild attacks of racing heart can sometimes be stopped by tricks. Dr. med. Norbert Smetak from the Federal Association of Resident Cardiologists (BNK) explains how those affected should behave correctly and when a doctor should be called.

Massage for the nerve

If light attacks of palpitations occur for no apparent cause, there are ways and tricks to calm the pulse. "By stimulating certain pressure receptors, the heartbeat can possibly be normalized again," explains Dr. med. Norbert Smetak, Federal Chairman of the BNK. “Those affected can, for example, use the middle and index fingers to gently massage a point on the neck where the pulse can be felt. This stimulates the carotid sinus nerve, which measures blood pressure in the carotid arteries. This may reduce the heart rate and stop the seizure. Since the blood pressure can also drop as a result of the massage, this method should only be used while sitting or lying down, ”advises the expert.

Increase the pressure

Not the nice kind, but sometimes just as helpful: burping. Belching can often be induced by quickly drinking a cold, carbonated drink. Belching temporarily increases pressure in the chest and stomach area, which can stop the racing heart. "Another possibility would be to hold your nose closed to equalize pressure, as you do when diving, then press air into your nose with your mouth closed and maintain the pressure for a few seconds," explains Dr. Smetak out. Here, too, the temporary increase in pressure can stop the heart racing.

Call an emergency doctor if you feel dizzy

If the pulse remains high, those affected should call a doctor. Prolonged heartbeat is dangerous because not enough blood is pumped through the body when the heart starts racing. “In the worst case, it turns into ventricular fibrillation with pulse rates of over 300 beats per minute, which can be fatal without immediate treatment. Therefore, a doctor must be called in the event of prolonged attacks of palpitations or if symptoms such as weakness or dizziness occur, ”emphasizes Dr. Smetak.


04/29/2013 | Sandra Göbel / BNK