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Johns Hopkins Bayview News - What To Do When Your Heart Skips a Beat

Winter 2014

What To Do When Your Heart Skips a Beat

By: Martin Fisher
Date: February 3, 2014

Shiny red plastic heart sitting on EKG results

Despite what romantic comedies and love ballads may lead you to believe, having your heart skip a beat can be quite unpleasant. Luckily, in most cases a fast or fluttering heartbeat is harmless, and common—millions of Americans experience some form of a heart arrhythmia every year.

Arrhythmias are caused by malfunctioning electrical impulses that signal the heart’s chambers to contract. This causes the heart to beat out of sync and usually leads to a skipping, fluttering or racing sensation due to irregular compression in one or more chambers of the heart. Arrhythmias cannot be prevented, but a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of heart disease, which helps prevent more dangerous arrhythmias later in life.

Still, arrhythmias can be associated with lightheadedness or fainting, headaches, shortness of breath or pain in your chest, back, neck, shoulders or arms. For patients suffering from these more significant symptoms, there are many forms of treatment available, including medication, implantable cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators, and surgery.

Cardiologists at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center have a variety of state-of-the-art heart monitoring tests to diagnose and determine the best course of treatment for heart arrhythmias, such as electrocardiograms (ECG), Holtor monitors, stress tests and electrophysiology testing and mapping.

If you have experienced significant cardiac arrhythmias, contact your primary care physician or call 410-550-4642 to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Bayview.