Difference between palpitations and Ec... - Arrhythmia Alliance

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Difference between palpitations and Ectopic beats

Spudly22 profile image


Most evenings infer a very short burst of raised heart beat and wondered what the difference is in how I would know if i was having ectopic or palpitations?

Along with lots of others there is an underline anxiety most days but even when I am having a relaxed good day they come.

They don’t worry me any more as much as they come and go so quick so my life of walking 5k a day and all usual activities other than I do still miss a glass of wine on the evenings but I wonder what they are so I can let my cardiologist know on our next meeting.

10 Replies

I’ve suffered with ectopic beats so the cardiologist have told me over 38 years !! Ectopic beats usually miss a beat every 3-4 beats .

but also my heart rate goes up so fast sometimes I have fluttering in my chest , especially when it’s bed time .

I do think it’s my anxieties take over , I’ve always been told my ectopic beats are not dangerous but I do get anxious when they start hence it’s make everything else worse , it’s a viscous circle.

Sorry Iam not much help ...

all the best


Spudly22 profile image
Spudly22 in reply to Deary63

Thank you .. i am hoping once covid is settled I will get some help with my anxiety’s so i will be able to control it more when it comes as relaxing glass of wine seems to be off the table ..

in reply to Deary63

Exact same for me every 4 beats I get a pause then so on this can go for ages but then disappears soo damn scary x

Hi Spudly .....sorry to hear of your woes!....to explain,...raised heartbeats are palpitations,they feel like thuds in the chest and are much faster than normal. Ectopic beats usually occur randomly and if you feel your pulse ,they present as “missed beats” ,I’ve had them with intervals where I thought my heart had STOPPED,! If the pause is the length of two beats it’s called “bigeminy” . I have Brugada Syndrome and suffer both these phenomena ,the palpitations mainly in the early hours ,which can feel scary. Try deep slow breathing in through the nose out through the mouth. This usually slows mine down after a while. As for the ectopic,my cardiologist assures me they are harmless and most people even without heart conditions experience them,but,just don’t feel them. Anxiety exacerbates both these problems, but I find “unfortunately” that so does the odd “tipple”.!! You sound otherwise fit with your walking so relaxation seems to be the answer.Unfortunately ,once diagnosed with a heart condition ,that then makes us more aware of it ,so try distraction techniques when it starts. Hope this helps.

Spudly22 profile image
Spudly22 in reply to Midnight21

Thank you .. I think they sound like palpitations as i am not aware of any missed beat.. just a thud and then short burst of fast raised heart rate Dam shame bout the wine but i yes I have also been told the same. I think some evenings it would help relax me but if it altered my heart rate it wouldn’t !

in reply to Midnight21

I am getting the same recently like every 4 beats I get a missed one . Last year I had the fast heartbeats they were horrific wasn’t sure if it was my anxiety heart or peri menopause I am 49 . But last week I was sitting quietly and had weird beats —- bleep bleep bleep bleep then pause then so on had this all day and day I was so scared . I did have ecg last aug and they said it was anxiety . Just had all my bloods and were fine apart from vit d low 56 . I seem to be getting these weird beats daily now more at nights also awful bloating in stomach and gurgling x

I get ectopics and also these funny short runs of about 5 fast beats. Always associated with stomach or bowels gurgling (vagus nerve, Roemheld syndrome, I think). I try to cut out fizzy drinks, big meals and swallowing air while sipping hot drinks (difficult but important). Glass of wine helps me relax but don't swish it round your mouth as you swallow more air!

Spudly22 profile image
Spudly22 in reply to Jonp

Thank you .. I am sure a small glass of red now and again would be very nice and relaxing but not currently wanting to risk anything and planning on waiting for the poor hospitals to be less busy just incase I end up there again.

Hi Spudly, I suffer them also and have done for years but only recently have had them checked. Palpitations and Ectopics are and can be one and the same in meaning and have become generally interchangeable words for heart rhythm problems.

Palpitation is a term meaning awareness of ones heart beat, from the latin word palpitatus, it simply means pulsate or throb, meaning you feel your heart beating, it is not a specific type of arrhythmia per se.

An ectopic beat however means an extra heart beat and is felt by a thud as the heart resumes normal sinus rhythm after the extra beat, they are typically a PVC or PAC, i.e. extra heart beats that originate from either the ventricle or the atrial part of the heart, this is when an electrical signal comes from an area other than the sinus node (the hearts pace maker). Have you had an ECG tape done? A 7 day ideally so you can catch them, this will be able to determine what and where they are originating. Also may be get a Kardia mobile, the are relatively inexpensive and can capture your ectopics and record them to show your cardiologist.

It would be good for you to know what area the extra beats are coming from as PVC's and PAC's can mean different things and treated differently. As you say anxiety is the likely culprit. I suffer from PVC's and they are massively affected by anxiety, stress and alcohol.

Do you take Magnesium Taurate supplements? I do now and they have improved both the ectopics (PVC is my case) and anxiety hugely. I am also on Bisoprolol as well as other BP meds.

Spudly22 profile image
Spudly22 in reply to Thecyclist

Thank you. I have had a 24 hr one done and they only saw couple of ectopics that I didn’t even feel. I think it’s the short runs that I get that are more noticeable for me and typically I didn’t get anything with the monitor! I have an Apple Watch so I can capture any Af and also note that my pulse can raise from 70 to 150 for a minute or two on some occasions. If it lasts longer than 10 mins I have been instructed to take a bisopralol

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