Bigeminy-when your heart skips a beat is actually the “sensation” you feel when the rhythm of your heart is irregular and the blood through it is moving differently than your body’s used to.
It may be described as “palpitations” or even as a “flutter.” So, while the heart doesn’t literally “skip” a beat, it may feel that way.
Most people will experience bigeminy at some point in their lives, however, it’s rarely a cause for concern.
Some basic information about Bigeminy-when your heart skips a beat:
- It is a common form of arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat)
- It is felt when a normal heartbeat is followed by a premature one (the second one comes too soon after the first one)
- Although it’s more common in older adults, it can happen at any age.
There’s not always a specific cause for the palpitations that occur with bigeminy.
One study of people treated for palpitations at a university medical center found that:
• 40 % were caused by arrhythmia
• 31 % were due to anxiety or panic disorders
• 16 % had no identifiable causes
• 6 %were due to prescription and over-the-counter medications, or illegal drugs
• 4 % had non-cardiac causes
• 3 % had a cardiac cause other than arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats)
Although the experts may not always be able to find the specific cause in each case of bigeminy, we do know that the condition is linked to changes in the heart’s rhythm sparked by variations in its electrical system.
Our magical human heart is only the size of a fist, but it’s an incredible “rhythm machine.”
- It beats 100,000 times a day and moves roughly 5 liters of blood throughout the body, a distance of almost 60,000 miles (!).
There are 2 upper chambers called the Atria and 2 lower chambers called the Ventricles.
- This process is triggered by electrical impulses that happen 60–100 times a minute in a resting, healthy adult.
The normal sound of the heartbeat – lub-DUB, lub-DUB, lub-DUB – comes from the opening and closing of the valves between the chambers as the blood circulates through the heart.
When the timing is “off”, the rhythm gets skewed. This is called an arrhythmia, and there are many forms of it, including bigeminy.
Symptoms of Bigeminy-When Your Heart Skips A Beat
When you experience bigeminy, it may feel as if the heart is skipping a beat or you’re having palpitations.
- A person may feel as if there is a pause between the beats of their heart.
However, although it may feel like the heart is skipping a beat, as mentioned earlier, bigeminy is the kind of arrhythmia in which the heart beats too early, or prematurely, but it doesn’t skip a beat.
Important: If heart palpitations are accompanied by feeling faint, actually fainting, or dizziness, seek prompt medical care.
If bigeminy lasts for a long time, recurs, or someone has a personal or family history of heart disease, it’s advisable to see a doctor for a confirmed diagnosis.
Doctors will ask about the following issues because they can all affect the health of your heart.
- symptoms in your chest, such as palpitations
- incidents of dizziness
- heart issues, such as high blood pressure or previous arrhythmia
- thyroid problems
- personal stress levels
- exercise habits
- use of tobacco
- prescription drug use
- use of some supplements and over-the-counter drugs
- consumption of caffeine and alcohol
- use of cocaine and other illicit drugs
And, because heart problems may have a genetic link, doctors will also take a detailed family health history.
A physical exam is also important for diagnosing bigeminy.
The first steps will involve:
- taking pulse and blood pressure readings
- listening to the heart rate and rhythm
- checking for a heart murmur
- looking for signs of heart failure, such as *edema
*Edema is swelling that occurs when too much fluid becomes trapped in the tissues of the body, particularly the skin.
- checking thyroid health, and other possible causes of arrhythmia
The best way to look at the health of the heart’s rhythm is with an electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG or EKG.
An ECG measures the timing and the level of the electrical waves passing through the heart and stimulating the different chambers to contract and relax.
Treatment and lifestyle changes
Bigeminy doesn’t usually need complicated treatment and will often resolve on its own.
However, medical experts have identified several substances as “potential triggers” for episodes of Bigeminy-when your heart skips a beat.
- Caffeine in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some soft Drinks
- Medications for seasonal allergies, asthma, and colds
- High blood pressure may also increase the likelihood of palpitations
- Exercise may sometimes trigger episodes of bigeminy, so people who have had palpitations in the past should use caution when starting or returning to fitness activities.
If the episodes of bigeminy happen frequently, posing a potentially more serious condition, doctors may prescribe drugs known as beta-blockers.
In the rare cases of bigeminy requiring more aggressive treatment, a surgical procedure known as catheter ablation may be used to treat the heart tissue.
In most cases (in otherwise healthy people), the symptoms go away on their own, and no treatment is required.
However, if episodes of bigeminy are frequent and severe, particularly if they are accompanied by dizziness and feeling faint, it’s important to see a doctor for a thorough evaluation and treatment plan.
This is especially important for people who have already been diagnosed with heart disease.
For them, frequent episodes of bigeminy may show increased risks for serious heart problems and they should see their Cardiologist as soon as possible.
Learn More: Read About Other Important Heart Rhythms