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Causes of Skipped Heart Beats

Updated on April 23, 2017

A healthy adult heart beats regularly at the rate of 60 to 100 times per minute. This process is governed by the speed of electrical signals originating from the SA (Sinoatrial) node. The human heart is made up of four chambers. Two upper chambers are called atria. Two lower chambers are called ventricles. The electrical signals travel from the sinoatrial node to the upper heart chambers (atria). They facilitate contraction of these chambers, enabling them to deliver blood to the lower heart chambers (ventricles).

Human Heart

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The electrical signals then reach the ventricles through the AV (atrioventricular) node. They facilitate contraction of ventricles, thereby pumping blood to the rest of the body. This regular flow of electricity from SA node to AV node resulting in contraction of the heart muscle is known as a "sinus" beat.

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Sometimes the heart may not beat at a regular rate. It may "Skip a beat" (ectopic heartbeat). This happens when the heart's regular rhythm is interrupted by early or premature beats. There are many causes for ectopic heartbeat. Skipped beats may be caused by PAC(Premature Atrial Contractions) or PVC (Premature Ventricular Contractions).

Possible Causes of Skipped Heart Beats

There are many causes for ectopic heartbeat. Skipped beats may be caused by PAC (Premature Atrial Contractions) or PVC (Premature Ventricular Contractions).

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People with arrhythmia (like atrial fibrillation) are more likely to experience irregular heartbeat. It is common among people who smoke tobacco frequently. Excessive consumption of alcohol is known to cause ectopic heartbeat. People with anemia generally experience this. Irregular heartbeat is observed in people who consume caffeinated drinks frequently.

Patients with hyperthyroidism experience irregular heart beat. Medicines which contain ephedrine are known to cause ectopic heartbeat. Irregular heartbeat is observed in people with chemical (electrolyte) problems in the blood. It can also be caused due to decreased blood supply to the heart (ischemia). People with diseases involving heart muscles experience irregular heartbeat. Use of illicit drugs like marijuana may cause irregular heartbeat.

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Low potassium levels in the blood may cause ectopic heartbeat. Anxiety, stress and depression are other major causes of irregular heartbeat. Diabetics with low blood sugar levels are more likely to experience irregular heartbeat. People with mitral valve prolapse generally experience ectopic heartbeat.

Skipped heartbeats are not a cause of serious concern. It is normal for the heart to skip a beat once in a while. If this happens frequently and is accompanied by symptoms like chest pain, then it is advisable to consult a cardiologist. The nature of skipped beats is determined by an EKG (also known as ECG).

5 Common Cardiovascular Conditions

Sl No
Condition
1
Rheumatic heart disease
2
Hypertensive heart disease
3
Ischemic heart disease
4
Cerebrovascular disease
5
Inflammatory heart disease

Summary

  • Heart beats regularly at the rate of 60 to 100 times per minute.
  • Regular flow of electricity from SA node to AV node resulting in contraction of the heart muscle is known as a "sinus" beat.
  • Skipped beats may be caused by PAC or PVC.
  • People with arrhythmia are more likely to experience irregular heartbeat.
  • Skipped heartbeats are not a cause of serious concern.

I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine.

— Neil Armstrong

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