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Skipped or extra beats

Every person alive has some skips or extra beats. These extra beats may arise from irritable spots in the top part of the heart (PACs), rarely from the AV node itself (PJCs) or most commonly from the bottom part of the heart (PVCs).

Sometimes these early beats make it to the bottom part of the heart and produce a pulse that the patient can feel as an extra beat. In other patients, the early beat does not make a pulse beat since not much blood is pumped by that beat. However, the early beat prevents the next normal beat from creating a pause that the person feels as a skip. Some patients feel these early beats while others do not. Symptoms caused by them can be palpitations (awareness in the chest of the abnormal heart beat, shortness of breath, the need to take a deep breath, light-headedness, chest pain, fatigue, or the need to cough). Sometimes these extra beats can trigger a fast heart rhythm problem like atrial fibrillation or SVT. Usually people are afraid that their heart will stop, which is very unlikely to occur. Since these skips or extra beats do not increase the risk of death, stroke, heart attack or a cardiac arrest, they are nothing more than a nuisance. Rarely, however, there can be enough extra beats that they begin to weaken the bottom part of the heart. In such cases, treatment is mandatory. Usually, in situations where the beats do not bother the person, treatment is not necessary. For those people who really feel poorly, treatment with medications or ablation are options.