If my heart occasionally skips a beat, do I have arrhythmia?

Dr. Andrea C. Bryan, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Almost everyone occasionally “skips” a beat. This is caused by a compensatory pause after an early beat. This does not mean that you have an arrhythmia. A test called a Holter monitor can be done to be sure no other arrhythmia is present.

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Dr. Indrajit Choudhuri, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

A "skipped" beat is generally related to a heart beat that occurs earlier than expected, so that after the early beat there is a pause or delay that is longer than usual until the next heart beat, giving the sense of "skipping" or missing a heart beat.

This would be considered an arrhythmia and is related to premature beats known as premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) or premature atrial contraction (PACs). They are themselves not dangerous but may signify underlying heart disease so it is important to see your doctor for any sense of change in heart rhythm.

Dr. Charan Kantipudi
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Any heart rhythm irregularity is called arrhythmia. However, some of these are not dangerous. Some could be life threatening.

Usually a skipped beat occurs due to a premature heart beat either from the upper or lower heart chamber. There is a time gap after a premature heart beat that gives you a feeling of skipped heart beat.

If these are very frequent, they need to be evaluated.

Arrhythmia is a change to the regular, rhythmic beating of your heart. A fluttering, heart palpitation, or "skipping a beat" sensation may be a symptom of arrhythmia. Do not panic; millions of Americans experience these sensations every year and have a harmless case of arrhythmia. If you experience other symptoms such as dizziness, unexplained fainting, shortness of breath, or chest pain you may have arrhythmia. Your doctor can determine what type of arrhythmia you might have and if you are at risk for any serious complications.

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