What Is Ectopic Rhythm?
An ectopic rhythm is an irregular
heart rhythm due to a premature heartbeat. Ectopic rhythm is also known as
premature atrial contraction, premature ventricular contraction, and
heart experiences an early beat, a brief pause usually follows. You generally
become aware of it on the next beat, which feels much stronger. It can feel
like fluttering, or as though your heart skipped a beat.
experience ectopic rhythm on occasion. This is generally harmless and resolves
without medical intervention. If ectopic rhythm continues, seek medical
treatment. A doctor can investigate the cause to determine if there’s an
underlying medical condition such as electrolyte imbalance in the blood, heart
injury, or heart disease. The specific diagnosis will determine your treatment.
What Are the Types of
Premature Atrial Contraction
heartbeat that originates in the heart’s upper chambers (atria) is a premature atrial contraction (PAC).
In healthy children, irregular heartbeats are almost always PACs and are
Premature Ventricular Contraction
irregularity comes from the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles), it is
called a premature ventricular
contraction (PVC). The risk of PVC rises with age. You are
at increased risk of PVC if you have a family history of PVC or if you have had
a heart attack.
Causes of Ectopic Rhythm
cause of ectopic rhythm is unknown. Some of the factors that can cause or
aggravate ectopic rhythm are:
illegal drugs (stimulants)
levels of adrenaline, usually due to stress
condition persists for a long time, it’s more likely that there’s an underlying
condition, such as:
to the heart muscle due to heart disease, infection, or high blood pressure
What Are the Symptoms of Ectopic
will be unaware that you have ectopic rhythm. It may feel as though:
heart is fluttering
heart is pounding
heart skipped a beat or stopped briefly
are hyper aware of your heartbeat
feel faint or dizzy
It’s rare, but sometimes a person with ectopic rhythm will develop
ventricular tachycardia (rapid
and irregular heartbeat) and other arrhythmias (problems
with the heart rate). People who have had a heart attack or have heart disease
or heart abnormalities have a higher risk of complications or sudden cardiac
How Is Ectopic Rhythm
Most of the
time, the cause of ectopic heartbeat is unknown and requires no treatment. If
you feel fine otherwise, you should still advise your doctor during a physical
exam so they can listen carefully to your heartbeat.
If symptoms occur
frequently or become severe, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she
will want to conduct a physical exam to see if there are abnormalities of your
experience chest pain and pressure, sustained rapid heart rate, or other symptoms
along with ectopic rhythm, seek medical attention immediately.
testing to determine the cause may include:
sound waves used to create a moving picture of the heart
monitor: a portable device that records your heartbeat for 24 to 48 hours
angiography: X-rays and contrast dye used to see how blood flows through your
(ECG): records electric activity of the heart
testing: monitoring heart rate during exercise, usually via a treadmill
detailed imaging using magnets and radio waves
CT scan: heart scan using X-rays
angiography: X-rays with contrast dye
What Are the Treatments for
cases, treatment isn’t necessary. Often the symptoms will resolve on their own.
If your symptoms increase or become very severe, your doctor will base your
treatment on the underlying cause.
If you have
had a heart attack or heart failure in the past, your doctor may prescribe beta
blockers or other medications to help. If you have heart disease, your doctor
may suggest angioplasty — in
which a balloon is used to open a narrowed blood vessel — or bypass surgery.
How Can I Prevent Ectopic
some simple things you can do to reduce the likelihood of premature ventricular
contractions (PVCs). Take note of what triggers symptoms, and eliminate them.
Common triggers are alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. Cutting down on or
eliminating these substances may help to keep PVCs under control.
symptoms are stress related, try self-help techniques like meditation and
exercise. If you are experiencing a period of prolonged stress, ask your doctor
for information on reducing stress. In severe cases, antianxiety medication may