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What are Ectopic Beats?

21 Sep 2009
Posted by webmaster

An Ectopic Beat or Cardiac ectopy is an irregular beat arising in the heart due to variations in the electrical conductance system of the heart. Ectopic beats are generally harmless and may occur without any particular cause. Ectopic beats are common in adults and if it happens frequently, an examination should be done, even if no further treatment is prescribed.

Ectopic Beats may either be

  • Atrial Ectopic Beats arising in the atria(the upper chambers of the heart)
  • Ventricular Ectopic Beats arising in the ventricles(the lower chambers of the heart)

Atrial Ectopic beats are usually a harmless variation in the normal beat pattern of the heart. It may occur randomly or in an occasional sequence. Mostly, it passes off undetected. Typical symptoms are the feeling that your heart skipped a beat, or that the heart is beating harder than usual. They may be triggered by a variety of stimulants like coffee, alcohol, nicotine, certain cold remedies and even stress. They may also be caused by the enlargement of the atria and some lung diseases.

Atrial Ectopic beats are detected in an ECG(Electrocardiogram). They are treated only if they cause significant discomfort to the individual. Atrial Ectopic beats cannot be prevented but their frequency can be reduced by controlling the stimulants and also by treating lung disorders causing it.

ectopic beats ecg

A ECG showing an Ectopic beat

Ventricular Ectopic Beats are also called premature ventricular contraction as they may occur just before the normal beat of the ventricle. Ventricular Ectopic beats also are common in people and they do not pose a risk unless there is a history of heart disease. The causes of Ventricular Ectopic beats are not clearly defined as they may be triggered by a stimulant or may occur randomly. Symptoms are usually the feeling of a strong, skipped beat, shortness of breath or a feeling of fullness in the neck.

Ventricular Ectopic beats are seen in an ECG. For a healthy person, occasionally occurring ventricular Ectopic beats need not be prevented. If they happen frequently, limiting of stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, smoking, stress and some medicines with known triggers are seen as sufficient.

However, when a person with a history of heart disease experiences frequent ventricular Ectopic beats, he may be having an underlying heart disorder. Extensive testing, fast diagnosis and treatment are essential in this case. Treatment may include the use of Beta-blocker drugs and Antiarrhythmic drugs in addition to treatment for associated heart problems like artery blockage.


For getting free email consultaion from our cardiologists feel free to Contact Us or post it as a comment below. 

What are Ectopic beats?

I'm a 23 yr old male , some times i feel like missing beats inside my heart. Am i in a condition of ectopic beats? Shud i take any precautions inorder to avoid this?


Ectopic beats are quite common in healthy individuals. 

If you are not symptomatic I would not be worried.

Medical Team, Heart Consult

Ectopic beats during pregnancy period

My wife is 14 weeks pregnent.. and during the recent doctor visit they told she is having ectopic heart beats is it serious? what are all the things need to be taken care to make it normal Pls suggest some actions to avoid or to reduce it.

Ectopic beats during pregnancy period

definitely there are a couple of hemodynamic changes in pregnancy. ectopic beats can also occur in healthy individuals.

i would check her lab results ( potassium level, thyroid function, etc. )
also go for an echocardiogram and holter ecg. 

Medical Team, Heart Consult

Ventricular Ectopic Beats

For the past few weeks, every now and then I get these jolts in the lower part of my heart, and what's described up there is pretty much exactly what's been happening, and I do drink coffee like every day. But, I'm only 17, and it's really been freaking me out. Should I get it checked on?

Re:Ventricular Ectopic Beats

well , ' jolts in lower part of the heart' is not a main symptom of a cardiac problem.


Medical Team, Heart Consult

Atrial ectopics


I'm a 24 year old male. I would say I am reasonably healthy. My lifestyle involves exercise and eating the right foods but I do drink alcohol moderately and used to smoke. In a routine health check, my doctor noticed that when resting my ECG showed that I had an irregular heart beat (trigemeny & bigemeny) as soon as I started to move my heart went back into rhythm. I seem to frequently get this irregular beat most days, It doesn't effect me, its just slightly annoying and I have only started to notice more now its been diagnosed. This worried me and further test were conducted, I have now had the all clear on two 24 hour ECG'S and an echocardiogram. The doctors did note that I had atrial ectopics but normal sinus rhythm. My question is why do I only get the irregular rhythm when I'm at rest? Does this sound normal/common to you? and finally after the test I have had would something serious show up? Should I follow this up further or just live with the frequent ectopics?

Thank you


Ectopic beats can also be present in healthy individuals.

If holter ecg and echo were fine , you need not be worried. I assume that blood results were normal ( e.g potassium, thyroid)
If there are too many ectopics beats, especially if patient is symptomatic, prescription of low dosage of ß-blocker can help. 
Best Regards
Medical Team, Heart Consult

What are Ectopic Beats?

I'm 38 year old female. I am very healthy (swimm a lot), I am almost vegetarian and fussy about eating healthy foods. I drink a glass of wine once a week as well as one small bottle of beer with a nice homemade pizza on Saturday and I drink decaf tea regulary and green tea.
10 months ago I discovered at the gym my heart was beating "strange". I went to the cardiologist, had blood test, ECG, Holter and a heart scan. Results: normal and healthy heart, good functions, BUT frequent ectopic bits - 5 to 6 PER MINUTE and even more in situations were I am anxious -. It is honestly VERY uncomfortable as my heart "stops" all the time and I have started paniking. My cardiologist said to me, "try to live and cope with that, I would not recommend pills". Honestly my life changed a lot because of this, as it is VERY symptomatic. The ectopic bits are less during morning and when I breath very slowly and deeply. I'm trying to get pregnant and I'm worried about making this worst. Do not know if to find another cardiologist to have a different opinion. It is really physically exhausting.


First of all. Nothing to worry about. Your cardiologist has excluded  structural heart disease

Ectopic beats are quite frequent in healthy individuals.
If it is really disturbing ß-blockers can reduce frequency.
Best Regards 
Medical Team, Heart Consult

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