When your heart “skips a beat” it may feel like a brief flutter or flip-flop in your chest. In fact, that skipped beat feeling is actually an extra beat medically defined as a premature beat. There are two types of premature beats, a premature atrial contraction in the top chamber of the heart and a premature ventricular contraction from the lower heart chamber, which pumps the blood to other parts of your body, according to the American Heart Association: “Premature beats occur when electrical impulses from your heart misfire earlier than expected. The good news is that most premature beats don’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your heart’s structure. But if they do become frequent or are accompanied with shortness of breath or chest pain, visit your doctor to make sure it’s nothing serious. “Neither of these are considered dangerous. Although there are exceptions, these are typically benign,” says Ayman A. Hussein, MD, a cardiac electrophysiology specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “It comes down to symptoms and quality of life.” Try these things that heart doctors do to protect their own hearts.
Too much coffee
That cup of coffee does more than just give your senses a jolt in the morning—it gives your heart one too. Caffeine stimulates the stress hormones, like adrenaline, to rapidly pump through your body, which exacerbates abnormal heart rhythms, like skipped beats. “It’s not that caffeine is causing it to skip, [caffeine] is just making it more obvious, more prevalent, and making it show up and cause symptoms,” says Dr. Hussein. Try cutting back on your intake by drinking decaf after your first to see if that helps regulate your heartbeat. Or try switching to tea and see if that makes a difference.