The heart can sometimes beat irregularly or at a higher or lower rate than normal. This is called an arrhythmia, which is very often experienced as a feeling of “skipped beats” or “palpitations”. Arrhythmias can be persistent, but more often appear intermittently. There are many different forms of arrhythmias. Some of them are innocent, but others are linked with significant heart abnormalities.
The palpitations that require urgent attention and may be a sign of a significant heart abnormality:
- are causing “black-outs”/syncope
- can trigger chest pain/angina
- are causing breathlessness
- are associated with dizziness
- are very frequent
- the heart beat is irregular throughout the day
It is important to identify which form of arrhythmia is present, as the treatment is different for each form. This can sometimes be challenging, especially for intermittent arrhythmias, because we cannot predict when the arrhythmia will appear again. Depending on the frequency of the arrhythmia, there are various monitoring devices (link to monitoring devices) that are used to capture the arrhythmia. These devices can record the electrical activity of the heart for a period ranging between 24 hours and 14 days.