Ectopic heartbeat is an irregularity of the heart rate and heart rhythm involving extra or skipped heartbeats.
Ectopic heartbeats are small variations in an otherwise normal heartbeat that causes an irregular pulse. They may occur without an obvious cause and are usually harmless.
Sometimes they are associated with chemical (electrolyte) problems in the blood, which need treatment. They can also happen with ischemia caused by a decrease in blood supply to the heart.
Ectopic beats may be caused or made worse by excessive smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine, certain medications such as stimulants, and some illicit drugs.
Ectopic beats are rare in children who do not have congenital heart disease. Most extra heartbeats in children are premature atrial contractions (PACs), which are almost always benign.
In adults, ectopic beats are common. Their causes should be investigated even if it turns out that no treatment is needed.
Feeling your heart beat (palpitations)
Feeling like your heart stopped or skipped a beat
Feeling of occasional, forceful beats
Note: There may be no symptoms.
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