15 Reasons Why Your Heart Skips a Beat


Have you ever noticed your heart missing a beat or flutter?

It is a terrifying feeling when you notice that your heart skips a beat. So, what does it mean when your heart skips a beat? Let’s see.

This condition is best known as heart palpitations. It means that your heart is beating too fast or too slow.

A faster than normal heartbeat is termed tachycardia and a slower than normal beat is called bradycardia.

This disturbance in the rhythm of the heartbeat can result in severe conditions like arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

It happens if the nerve cells that generate electric signals do not function properly.

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Usually, palpitations are not of a concern, and they come and go on their own.

However, you should ensure that it doesn’t happen frequently. Medical treatment is necessary to learn how to stop your heart from skipping beats.

Related Reading: Chest Pain That Comes and Goes


Causes of Heart Skipping a Beat

The reasons why your heart skips a beat can be classified into two categories:

  • Medical
  • Non-medical

Why Your Heart Skips A Beat


Medical Causes Why Your Heart Skips a Beat

1. Pre-mature Contractions

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When the upper chambers of your heart called ‘atria’ contracts faster than usual, it causes premature contractions.

Your cardiovascular system loses its rhythm, and so blood is not pumped out of the heart properly. At times, this condition is harmless, but it should not be ignored as it can also cause side effects.

2. Atrial Fibrillation

If you are wondering ‘what causes my heart skip a beat,’ Atrial Fibrillation may be the answer. It is an irregular and speedy contraction of the upper chambers of the heart. It is a critical condition and should be treated urgently.

3. Supraventricular Tachycardia

This condition refers to the atria located above the ventricles. It causes fast heartbeat and needs medical attention.

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4. Pacemaker Defect

Sinus node of the heart works as a pacemaker. It ensures regular pulses. It may be possible that the sinus node may not work correctly, causing heart palpitations.

Non- Medical Causes Why Your Heart Skips a Beat

These causes include lifestyle habits, stress, etc. that disrupts your heart beats.

1. Alcohol Abuse

Excess alcohol lowers your blood pressure, and so your heart has to strain more to facilitate adequate blood circulation. Due to this, your heart skips a beat, or the blood flow becomes erratic.

Related Reading: Melatonin and Alcohol Interaction Side Effects Explained

2. Caffeine/ Aerated Drinks

Caffeine and energy drinks are not good for your health. They contain the high level of stimulants, and so the over-consumption increases your heart rate. You may also feel that you are missing heartbeats.

3. Stress

Stress can flutter your heart beats and can have adverse effects on your heart and overall health. You may also experience low or high blood pressure due to stress.

4. Acid Reflux

Acid Reflux usually happens after your meal or while lying down. In such cases, your heart skips a beat or develops palpitations.

5. Dehydration

Dehydration lowers your blood pressure and causes an imbalance of electrolytes. This puts pressure on the heart, and so it may miss a beat.

6. Medications

Medications used for depression or cancer treatments have high level of stimulants. The side effects of these medicines can lead to skipped beats. Smokers also experience this due to the intake of nicotine.

7. Overeating

Overeating stretches the stomach, and the blood flow to the stomach becomes difficult. This flutters the heart, and your heart skips a beat. It is a temporary feeling though.

8. Nutrition Deficiency

Minerals like magnesium and potassium are vital for heart functioning. They are essential for cells, tissues, and organs. Their deficiency can cause irregular heartbeats.

9. Exercise

Hard work out can stress your body. It increases the blood pressure, and thus your heartbeats can be erratic.

10. Hormones

Fluctuation in hormones can increase the heartbeat rate. Hormonal imbalance can be caused by situations like thyroid, pregnancy, menopause, etc. Anxiety in such cases can affect the heart directly.

11. Inadequate Sleep

A good night’s sleep is inevitable for the well-being of the mind, and body. Poor sleep leads to stress and this triggers problems in the functioning of the heart. Sleeping on the floor can help get good night’s sleep in some cases.

Heart skips a beat


Risk Factors for Heart Skipping a Beat

When your heart skips a beat, or you are experiencing the problem in heartbeats, you tend to fret.

It causes fear and stress. The resulting anxiety causes more problems in the heart rate. Following are few risk factors you may encounter if your heart skips a beat:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • High thyroid
  • Heart diseases like arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, or other heart defects
  • Side effects of stimulant medications
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack

5 Ways  to Treat Heart Skipping a Beat

The treatment depends on the cause of unbalanced heartbeat. In most of the cases, the palpitations will fade away on their own. But for others, there are recommended treatments as below:

1. Lifestyle Changes

If stress is the underlying problem, you need to modify your lifestyle to make it stress-free. A good body works out like yoga, exercise, meditation, or relaxation therapy is recommended.

You also need to cut down on smoking and alcohol. These changes shall improve the blood flow to the heart. You may also take medication on doctor’s prescription to reduce stress and thus regularize your heart beat.

2. Diet

If your heart skips a beat, it can also be due to drugs, unhealthy food and drinks and a high dose of antibiotics. You need to intake anti-inflammatory food items that improve your immunity.

You can include high fiber foods, vegetables, fruits, legumes, healthy fats, and probiotics. They also help in maintaining cholesterol levels.

Through medical checkup, you need to identify the substance causing palpitations.

3. Maintain Weight

Obese people are prone to arrhythmia. They have higher chances of Atrial Fibrillation as compared to people with a healthy weight. Reducing weight can help make this condition normal.

4. Medication

In case of severe condition, medicines prescribed by professional doctors can help. Antiarrhythmics and beta blockers slow down a fast heartbeat. But these drugs have their side effects like dizziness, chest pain, breathlessness, etc.

5. Surgery

If your heart skips a beat frequency, a pacemaker is one of the best solutions.

It is placed under the chest skin or abdomen, and it controls unbalanced heart rate. If the patient has severe heart defects, he/ she can go for a surgery like repairing a heart valve.

Maze surgery is also an option that lets the electrical impulses travel quickly through the heart. These are the last stages for curing the problem, and they are done only on doctor’s recommendation.


When to See a Doctor?

You must see a doctor if:

  • Your heart skips a beat frequently.
  • Your heart palpitations are getting worse.
  • You have a history of cardiovascular disease.


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Sources:
Dr. Axe, ‘Irregular Heart Beat: What you need to know + how to naturally Treat’, Dr Axe web site; https://draxe.com/irregular-heartbeat/.
Kimberly Holland, ‘Why does my heart feel like it skipped a beat?’, Healthline web site, September 28, 2017; https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-skips-a-beat#treatment.
”Why your heart skips a beat”, Belmarra health web site, October 21, 2017; https://www.belmarrahealth.com/heart-skips-beat/.

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Dr. David Cummings, MD

Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.