Feel an arrhythmia in your pulse

Cardiac Arrhythmia - Arrhythmia: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Usually there is a suitable treatment method for dangerous or annoying arrhythmias that eliminates the danger and improves the quality of life. If you feel bad or feel acutely unwell, see your doctor or call the emergency number 144.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in adults worldwide. If left untreated, atrial fibrillation increases the risk of heart failure and stroke.


The causes of cardiac arrhythmias are damage to or disruptions to the cardiac stimulus management system. These can affect the sinus node, the natural pacemaker of the heart, the atria or the large chambers (ventricles). The so-called conduction system is the electrical «wiring» in the heart. Together with the sinus node, it is responsible for the rhythmic contraction of the heart muscle. If there is a disorder at one point, an irregular pulse, called arrhythmia, develops, which in turn causes various symptoms.

Frequent causes: coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attack, myocarditis, myocardial disease, heart valve disease, congenital heart defects, high blood pressure, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), anemia (anemia), lung disease, dysregulation of the vegetative nervous system Alcohol, coffee or drugs, drug side effects, fever, etc ...

Who is affected by cardiac arrhythmias?

The disease occurs mainly in younger patients with certain risk profiles, in older age or in trained endurance athletes. However, it can also occur spontaneously. Either an examination is ordered based on the symptoms or the irregular heart rhythm is discovered by chance during a routine check-up. Arrhythmias can be dangerous, but most are not dangerous. It is therefore important to consult a specialist as soon as possible to clarify what type of arrhythmia is present.

Public lecture for atrial fibrillation at the Hirslanden Clinic - 04/04/2019

In this lecture you will learn more about cardiac arrhythmias - especially about atrial fibrillation.

What are the symptoms of cardiac arrhythmias?

Symptoms: recognize an arrhythmia

The symptoms can be very different and are often perceived differently. It is different for every patient. There are people who suffer from serious cardiac arrhythmias, but do not notice anything - others, on the other hand, already feel small dropouts. We differentiate between slow, fast, regular and irregular cardiac arrhythmias.

Disturbance of rhythm and frequency

With slow (bradykarden) cardiac arrhythmias, the heart rate drops below 60 beats per minute for a longer period of time. A slow heart rhythm is not necessarily a disease. Well-trained endurance athletes can have a lowered resting heart rate and a consistently low heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute. If a pause between heartbeats lasts longer than three seconds, this is a significant pause, which must be further clarified.

Common symptoms are: tiredness, listlessness, heart stumbling, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath, short-term loss of consciousness ("circulatory collapse") and temporary visual or speech disorders.

Rapid arrhythmias - tachycardias

The heart normally beats faster when it has to perform. However, if this condition persists in the resting phase, then the cause is pathological (illness-related). With more than 100 beats per minute, one speaks of a (tachycardia) cardiac arrhythmia. Isolated heartbeats outside the basic rhythm are called extrasystoles. Mostly extrasystoles make themselves felt as heart stumbling. However, it can also include atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, or life-threatening ventricular tachycardia.

Common symptoms are: palpitations, racing heart, nervousness, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, inner restlessness and collapse.

Most common form: atrial fibrillation

In atrial fibrillation (absolute arrhythmia), the heart beats in an uncoordinated manner, whereby the small chambers, i.e. the atria, no longer beat, but only flicker uncontrollably. The result is an uncoordinated heart action - a chaotic heart activity that is no longer clocked by the atria. This is clearly noticeable.

Frequent symptoms are: irregular heartbeat and pulse, palpitations, racing heart, dizziness, sweating, shortness of breath, inner restlessness, feelings of fear, exhaustion, tiredness, chest pain, exhaustion, reduced performance or even a stroke.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common rhythm disorder. The origin lies in the pulmonary veins, which open into the left atrium of the heart (white pin). The muscle fibers of the heart end at this opening and go into the tissue of the pulmonary veins. This is where the trigger for atrial fibrillation is located. That is why pulmonary vein isolation is performed there.

Are Arrhythmias Dangerous?

Irregular heartbeat can be normal. Everyone has to deal with irregular heartbeat at some point in their life. As a rule, only a heart specialist can diagnose whether cardiac arrhythmias are harmless or life-threatening after a detailed examination of the patient. Recently there have also been electronic helpers (e.g. Apple Watch) which can make certain diagnoses with the help of artificial intelligence (A.I.). Nevertheless, you should always consult a doctor if you have a problem.

When exactly should the heart be examined?

Arrhythmias are common. If the heart beats too fast or too slowly every now and then, this does not have to be a sign of illness. However, if cardiac arrhythmias occur more frequently or over a longer period of time, the cause should be clarified. Especially if these arrhythmias have an impact on your performance. An early examination can prevent complications from a cardiac arrhythmia.

What happens during the examination?

Your doctor will first take a medical history (a collection of all medically relevant data) to better understand the arrhythmia. With questions such as when does it occur? What makes it worse Then he will examine you physically and listen with the stethoscope. Valve defects heard in this way can also cause abnormal heart rhythms. Then he does an electrocardiogram (EKG) and can see the electrical activity of the heart on the body surface and document the heart rhythm. Often a blood sample must also be made. Since the arrhythmias usually do not occur during the doctor's visit, a long-term ECG is performed. In these cases your ECG will be recorded continuously for 48 hours (Holter) up to a few months (Loop Recorder).

Recommended procedure for cardiac arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation

If you are affected by cardiac arrhythmias or atrial fibrillation, your first point of contact is your general practitioner or cardiologist.

Then we will be happy to advise you. Call us or send us a message.

Patient experience

After 20 years of atrial fibrillation - video
The patient's voice after successful surgical ablation and 20 years of atrial fibrillation experience