Heart stumbling: causes and therapy

The normal beating of the heart is actually not perceived. If the heart stumbles, the affected person feels an additional or missing heartbeat. Likewise, heart stumbling is often understood to mean an acceleration, slowdown or irregular heartbeat.

Irregular heartbeat

Heart stumbling is one of the arrhythmias. Any heart rate that deviates from the normal heart rhythm is to be understood as such. Bradycardia (slow heart rhythm) means less than 60 beats per minute, tachycardia (increased heart rhythm) is more than 100 beats per minute.

Heartbeats that occur outside the regular rhythm are referred to as extrasystoles. Such additional strikes can occur prematurely, belatedly, individually or frequently. They can, but do not have to be subjectively perceived as heart stumbling by those affected. These occur in healthy people as well as those with heart problems.

Extrasystoles (heartbeats occurring outside the rhythm) lead to so-called arrhythmia (cardiac arrhythmia). Depending on the origin, supraventricular (above the ventricles) or ventricular (concerning the ventricles) arrhythmias are recorded. Extrasystoles are among the most common cardiac arrhythmias. Regardless of the cardiac arrhythmia, these are perceived as so-called cardiac stumbling.

Different forms of heart stumbling

Supraventricular extrasystoles do not originate in the ventricle. They arise above the chamber, in the left or right atrium. Most of these additional beats come from the sinus node. It is located in the heart's conduction center, in the right atrium (the heart consists of two atria and two chambers). The sinus node is the so-called "pacemaker" of the heart. It provides 60 to 80 excitation impulses per minute.

If supraventricular extrasystoles develop, the sinus node transmits additional impulses to the heart muscle. This then contracts to an additional heartbeat. This non-rhythmic heartbeat may then be perceived as stumbling, but can also go completely unnoticed. Every now and then it happens that after such an additional heartbeat there is a pause called a "compensatory pause". This is also sometimes felt to be uncomfortable, but can also go unnoticed.

Causes of supraventricular extrasystoles

Supraventricular extrasystoles, felt as heart stumbling by those affected, can also occur in completely healthy people. Most of all, anxious, nervous people suffer from it. The body then reacts with panic, an accelerated pulse (tachycardia), sweating and restlessness. Consuming coffee, nicotine, and alcohol can make your heart trip more easily in anxious, nervous patients.

Heart diseases, such as coronary heart disease, in which there is a shortage of the heart, cardiomyopthia (diseases of the heart muscle), inflammation of the heart muscle or heart valve diseases are also noticeable among other things through cardiac stumbling.

Medications can also be the cause of supraventricular extrasystoles, or simply stumbled hearts. These include drugs such as antidepressants, but also drugs that are said to have a positive effect on the rhythm of the heart, so-called antiarrhythmics. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), but also infections can also cause extrasystoles.

Ventricular extrasystoles

Ventricular extrasystoles originate from the heart chambers. Outside the normal heart activity, additional excitations of the heart chambers arise. These are perceived as heart stumbling by those affected.

Causes of ventricular extrasystoles

Ventricular extrasystoles can occur in both healthy and sick people. In healthy people, this is often associated with fatigue, stress and massive emotional arousal. If heart disease is the cause of ventricular extrasystoles, it is usually damage to the heart muscle cells. Reasons for this include, for example, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), diseases of the coronary arteries, cardiomyopathies (diseases of the heart muscle) or the consequences of a heart attack. Likewise, hyperthyroidism, hormonal imbalances and the side effects of certain medications such as digitalis (so-called cardiac glycosides) can lead to ventricular extrasystoles.

Heart stumbling diagnosis

A detailed medical history is at the beginning of the diagnosis. The doctor asks about complaints and how often they occur, in what context and in what intensity. The additional symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and possible weakness attacks are also important here. The doctor asks about existing diseases such as thyroid disorders, heart diseases and chronic infections. The social environment, work and everyday life also play an important role here. During a thorough physical examination, the heart is cultured (listened to) and attention is paid to any pathological (pathological) sounds.

The pulse beats on the arms, in the groin and on the feet are sensed and their quality is assessed. In addition, there is an ultrasound of the heart (ultrasound), in which the heart valves and heart chambers are examined closely. An EKG (electrocardiogram) shows the electrical heart currents. This is also carried out in the form of a 24-hour ECG. A laboratory examination of the blood, in which hormones and electrolytes are examined, rounds off the physical examination profile.

Naturopathy for heart stumbling

If heart stumbles occur in healthy people, this is not treated by conventional medicine. However, there are suitable therapeutic options in naturopathy to combat cardiac stumbling. For example, herbs such as passion flower, valerian, St. John's wort, lemon balm or hops are used, especially in anxious or nervous patients. Therapy forms such as foot reflexology, Bach flower therapy and homeopathy are also used here.

However, if there is an organic heart disease, the cardiologist uses suitable medications, such as the beta blockers, to prevent the heart from tripping. The body's electrolyte supply must also be optimally adjusted. If there is a risk of ventricular fibrillation (heart rate of more than 320 beats / minute), the implantation of a defibrillator can also be considered. In any case, it is important for patients suffering from cardiac stumbling to avoid luxury foods such as alcohol, nicotine and coffee or to consume them only in moderation.

If the heart stumbles in connection with a certain medication, it is important to check here whether another medication can be tested or the medication can be completely dispensed with. If there is a disease that does not directly affect the heart, such as an overactive thyroid, the underlying disease should be treated first.

Patients suffering from cardiac stumbling, both healthy and sick, are advised to ensure a quiet, stress-free life with enough sleep. Here, for example, various relaxation exercises, autogenic training, tai chi and consistent sleep hygiene are available to counteract the risk of cardiac arrhythmias. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • German Center for Cardiovascular Research e. V .: Cardiac arrhythmia, (accessed September 11, 2019), DZHK
  • L. Brent Mitchell: Overview of Arrhythmias, MSD Manual, (accessed September 11, 2019), MSD
  • Lothar Krehan: Cardiac arrhythmia, Lehmanns Verlag, 1st edition, 2017
  • Erdmann: Clinical Cardiology, Springer Verlag, 8th edition, 2011

ICD codes for this disease: I49ICD codes are internationally valid encryption for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

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