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Skipped Heartbeats Probably No Concern

Most palpitations are harmless corrections

WEDNESDAY, June 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If you feel your heart skip a beat, it's probably nothing serious, says an article in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

It's likely that your heart didn't actually skip a beat, and what you felt was an early extra heartbeat. When your heart has an early heartbeat, it delays a little longer than normal before it beats again. To you, that may feel like your heart actually skipped a beat.

These so-called skipped beats and many other kinds of heart palpitations are common even among people with healthy hearts. In most cases, they don't require any treatment.

Skipped beats, fluttering, pounding, or other palpitations are caused when the coordinated electrical timing of millions of heart cells is disrupted. These palpitations can also be triggered by caffeine, fear, anxiety, stress, alcohol, smoking, vigorous exercise and certain medical conditions.

Even though most heart palpitations are harmless, they can pose a threat to some people, including those with coronary artery disease, heart failure or other heart structure abnormalities.

The Mayo article recommends you see a doctor if symptoms wake you or interfere with daily activities, the palpitations increase in frequency or severity, or if you have heart disease risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or a family history of heart disease.

More information

The Texas Heart Institute can explain your heartbeat.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, June 24, 2004
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