Is It Normal for Your Heart to Skip a Beat?

Someone jumps out and scares you, causing you to feel like your heart skipped a beat or two. Or, perhaps you routinely feel like your heart is fluttering in your chest even though the world around you is calm. These two scenarios may end with the same result — a heart that feels like it’s skipping beats — but the underlying causes are quite different, and one may be far more serious than the other.

At Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, board-certified cardiologist Dr. Rajiv Agarwal and our team understand the importance of recognizing early warning signs of brewing problems with your heart health. And when it comes to a heart that “skips beats,” there are times when it’s perfectly normal and times when it may signal something larger at play, such as an arrhythmia. Here’s how you can recognize the difference.

Understanding a skipping beat

When we use the term “skip a beat,” we’re referring to any feeling that your heart is beating irregularly, which is called a palpitation. A heart palpitation is an awareness of your heartbeat, which makes it feel like your heart is skipping, pounding, racing, or flip-flopping in your chest.

In many cases, certain changes or substances can make it feel like your heartbeat is erratic, such as:

While a palpitation is defined as a heightened awareness of your heartbeat, in many of the causes we outline above, there is a change in your heart rate. For example, when you’re frightened, your body releases adrenaline, which speeds up your heartbeat. And the same holds true for exercise — when you’re active, your heart rate goes up.

In all of the situations, however, there’s no immediate cause for concern as the underlying cause is usually temporary. If, however, you’re experiencing ongoing problems with palpitations, it may signal something more serious.

Recognizing a cardiovascular problem

If you’re experiencing heart palpitations with no identifiable cause, such as when you’re lying down, there are several heart-related conditions that may be to blame, including:

Of these conditions, an arrhythmia is the most common. In the most basic of terms, an arrhythmia is a heart rate that’s too slow (bradycardia), too fast (tachycardia), or erratically.

There are several types of arrhythmia that are defined by which chamber is causing the problem — either in your ventricles or your atria.

Whether an arrhythmia is present or it’s some other problem, the warning signs to look out for are:

If you feel any of these symptoms alongside your skipping heartbeat, we urge you to come see us so we can evaluate the problem. We’re equipped with the most advanced diagnostic technology with the goal of catching, and treating, cardiovascular problems before they lead to more serious issues like heart attack or stroke.

If your heart is skipping beats more often than not, please contact one of our eight locations in the Humble and Katy, Texas, area to set up an appointment.

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