Ectopic beat


‘Ectopic’ means out of place and refers to an irregular heart beat that is usually harmless

Enquiries & Appointments

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About ectopic beats

Ectopic beats are premature or extra heartbeats, which can cause you to have palpitations. They happen when cells away from your heart's own natural pacemaker get excited or irritated and release an electrical signal causing an extra or early heartbeat. There is often a slight pause after the extra beat, giving you the sensation of a missed beat.

Need to know

  • a pounding or fluttering sensation in your chest
  • your heart beating erratically
  • similar sensations in your throat or neck

Ectopic beats are usually nothing to be concerned about. However, it's a good idea to contact a consultant if they last a long time, don't improve, get worse or if you have a history of heart problems. Your consultant will speak to you about your symptoms, take your medical history and perform a physical examination of your chest using a stethoscope. They may also request the following tests:

  • blood tests
  • electrocardiogram (ECG), to check your heart rate
  • echocardiogram (an ultrasound scan of your heart)

Whether or not you need treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your ectopic heart beat, how severe your symptoms are and whether or not your heart is normal. Treatment options may include:

  • prevention, identifying and avoiding the triggers of your ectopic beats may help
  • beta blockers — medications that can lower your heart rate and control your heart rhythm
  • antiarrhythmic drugs which reduce the irritability of the ectopic area

Our locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Cardiac Clinic

The Cardiac Clinic

London Bridge Hospital SE1 2PR London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.