Your heart has several protection mechanisms that prevent erratic beating. It normally beats regularly, rhythmically and silently and that’s why you don’t hear it. But sometimes it may go out of whack and start a strange beating pattern. Does this mean you are about to die?

Knowing some heart vocabulary

  • Arrhythmias. A word that means there is a problem in the heart’s electrical system. it may refer to a single skipped beat, which everyone experience at some point in life, or to a life-threatening rapid pulse that requires emergency medical attention.
  • Atrial fibrillation. A racing heart often accompanied by dizziness or fainting. It may lead to a stroke.
  • Atrial tachycardia. Too rapid contractions of the heart which happen in sudden attacks. They are usually associated with heart disease
  • Palpitations. When the heart beats out of sequence.

Skipped beats

All of us experience skipped beats or extra heartbeats and when that happens we feel enormous anxiety. The truth is that, however, that while any form of heart disease can be associated with skipped beats, most people who experience them do not have a heart problem. In most cases, and as a general rule, they are not connected to the health of your heart; they have no relationship to heart disease and no impact on life span.

However, if you have heart disease, you are much more likely to experience skipped beats, due to the irritability that a diseased heart muscle causes. After a heart attack, the number of extra beats has a relationship to your chance of survival; in other words, the more extra beats, the higher the mortality rate.

Take your own pulse

Your pulse refers to the number of beats per minute your heart has. Taking your own pulse can help you to know if you have tachycardia, atrial fibrillation or other types of irregular heartbeat.

A normal resting pulse for adults and teens ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Most physicians advise not ot allow your heart rate to reach more than 200 beats per minute.

The CAST trial

This relationship between skipped beats and mortality rates among people with heart disease led to a study named the CAST trial. The study used a drug assuming that if the extra beats were reduced, the number of deaths will also decrease.

The trial had to be terminated earlier than anticipated because although the drug was reducing the extra beats, people taking the drug were more likely to die than those taking the placebo (a fake pill).

Common causes of skipped beats

  • Poor diet with too much refined sugar and saturated fat
  • Lack of exercise/ aerobic strength
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety

Do you need to check with your doctor?

If you are worry about your skipped beats because you get them often enough and they are becoming a source of anxiety for you, by all means, see your doctor. Based on your medical history and a physical exam, your physician can identify the reason for your skipped heart beats. In a normally healthy person, a normal cardiac ultrasound and stress test should be enough to discard fears of sudden death.

Diet to reverse skipped beats

  • Limit saturated and trans fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils)
  • Limit salt. Balance your sodium and potassium
  • Have a daily green salad every day
  • Include at least 3 or 4 times a week a vegetable juice made at home that includes
  • green leafy vegetables.
  • Include a multivitamin that includes vitamin B complex.
  • Take a good anti-oxidant supplement
  • Omega 3 fish oils. Omega-3s from fish help maintain stable heart rhythms by affecting the electrical activity of the heart.

Final word

One more time we see that physical conditions are linked to what we eat, what we drink, and the stress in our lives. By correcting factors such as diet and stress, you can go a long way in improving your health.

There is no need to wait until your doctor puts you on medication because medication will not cure you; it will just control the symptoms. On the other hand, a healthy lifestyle can help your body to heal itself.


I am Andy Carpenter and I would start by saying that I have a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition Science conferred by California State University, Los Angeles and that I am certified as a Registered Dietitian.

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