Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What makes one's heart skip a beat?"
Why would it be that at night my heart seems to skip a beat or even two beats? Is this possible or am I just imagining it? It doesn't bother me during the day, but at night I get really anxious about it and it keeps me awake for hours.
The rhythm of the heart is maintained by an group of cells inside the heart which give off a steady electrical signal that regulates the heart beat. However, all of the heart muscle cells also have their own electrical activity and they can sometimes initiate their own heart beat independently of the regulatory center. This is called a premature beat. Premature beats are the most common cause of the sensation of feeling like your heart has just skipped a beat or two. These premature beats are very common in many people and they are generally not a medical problem. The best way to deal with premature beats is to make sure you do not do things that increase their frequency and thereby make them more distressing. The main thing that increases their frequency is caffeine intake (soda, coffee, tea), but stress and loss of sleep can also have the same effect. Rarely skipped beats can be a sign of a more serious electrical problem in the heart. If you ever feel like your heart is racing and will not stop or if you get dizzy, short of breath, have chest pain, or pass out these are worrying symptoms and you should see your primary care doctor or cardiologist immediately.
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