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Skipping a Beat

Heart with an EKGMany people associate the heart skipping a beat with atrial fibrillation or AFib but there are multiple conditions that can cause these symptoms. Mitral valve prolapse occurs when the valve flaps of the heart that separate the upper and lower left chambers of the heart do not close properly. Mitral valve prolapse is caused by harmless growths of collagen on the heart’s valve leaflets. While some are born with a risk for this condition, others develop it as a result of other health problems.

Symptoms of mitral valve prolapse include:

  • A racing or irregular heart beat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, often during physical activity or while lying flat
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain not caused by a heart attack or coronary artery disease

For some, mitral valve prolapse does not require treatment but for others treatment may be necessary to prevent serious complications like blood clots that could result in a stroke. An echocardiogram can help determine whether valve leakage is a significant problem.

AFib is an irregular heartbeat caused by faulty firing of electrical impulses in the heart that stem from the development of abnormal tissue. These abnormal signals cause the upper chambers of the heart to quiver rather than contracting and relaxing in a regular rhythm. This can increase the risk of a blood clot formation.

Symptoms of AFib can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Quivering or thumping in the chest
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Exercise fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain or pressure

Find a heart specialist near you to help keep your heart in rhythm.


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Matthew Klein, MD

Matthew Klein, MD

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David Weisman, MD, FHRS

David Weisman, MD, FHRS

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