Downing a cold drink quickly can sometimes help a racing heart

Downing a cold drink quickly can sometimes help a racing heart Wiesbaden, Germany  - It's sometimes possible to stop unexpected heart palpitations by drinking a cold, carbonated drink quickly.

The point is to build up pressure on the chest and belly and force a belch, says the BDI Professional Association of German Internists. That stimulates various pressure receptors and can help normalize the heartbeat.

Another option is the Vasalva method. The method entails holding one's nose shut and, while keeping one's mouth shut, forcing air into the nostrils. By holding the pressure for a few seconds, just as one would do while trying to equalize pressure during diving, the carotid sinus nerve gets stimulated, says Wolfram Delius of the BDI.

While doing this, also massage behind the lower left jaw with the middle and index finger. "This can sink the heartbeat frequency and stop the attack," says Delius. Since the massage can also sink blood pressure, this procedure should only be attempted while seated or lying down.

If these procedures don't slow down the heart rate, or the patient suffers weakness or dizziness, then it could very well be a case of serious palpitations and it's time to go to a doctor. Otherwise, the patient risks life-threatening irregular fibrillation.

A racing heart can be a sign of physical exertion or mental stress. It can also indicate an illness affecting the heart muscle or a heart valve. A weak heart or a heart attack can also cause the symptoms. (dpa)