Frankfurt (dpa) – Germany’s Heart Foundation has allayed widespread fears that heart rhythm problems, also known as cardiac arrhythmia, necessarily signal a serious heart condition.
Irregularities are often harmless and can be seen as a normal heart simply “misfiring,” says the foundation, which speaks for top German cardiologists. In some cases, however, a heart beating too fast, too slowly or irregularly is indeed caused by a medical condition, such as heart disease or an overactive thyroid gland.
Treatment is necessary if, for example, the arrhythmia increases the risk of a stroke or sudden cardiac death, affects a person’s ability to function normally or produces dizzy spells or marked discomfort.
A healthy heart beats between 60 and 90 times a minute, a rate that can rise to about 160 or 180 when a person is under physical or psychological stress. At night the rate often falls to between 45 and 55 for many people, and even as low as 30 or 35 for well-conditioned athletes.
What is not normal, though, is when someone’s heartbeat fluctuates abruptly from normal to very high or very low rates.