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What Are Extrasystoles?

An irregularity in the heart rhythm in which a beat occurs immediately after a normal beat, followed by a longer interval before a regular rhythm resumes. Extrasystoles may be very infrequent, or occur several times a minute, even as often as every other beat. Occasional extrasystoles may occur in otherwise healthy people.

The individual may not be aware of the irregular beat. In other cases it feels as though the heart 'jumps', 'bumps', or 'thumps', or 'misses a beat'. The 'thumps' are also called 'palpitations' by sufferers.

The causes are numerous. In many cases no significant cause is found; sometimes excessive intake of alcohol, tea, coffee or smoking may be suspected; in other cases the symptom indicates the presence of serious disease and for this reason should be reported to a doctor.

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