Ectopic beat

Cardiac ectopy

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

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

  • What are the symptoms of an ectopic beat? icon plus

    • a pounding or fluttering sensation in your chest
    • your heart beating erratically
    • similar sensations in your throat or neck
  • Diagnosing ectopic beats icon plus

    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:

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    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

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We're proud to work with leading cardiac experts specialising in problems with heart rhythm, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

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From complex cardiothoracic surgery to diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional cardiac care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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