Atrial ectopic beats
An atrial ectopic beat is a problem in the electrical system of the heart.
It is an extra heartbeat caused by a signal to the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) from an abnormal electrical focus. It is also called an atrial premature beat or a premature atrial contraction.
Symptoms of ectopic beats
Atrial ectopic beats occur normally and rarely cause any symptoms.
Causes of ectopic beats
These premature heartbeats are associated with lung diseases, especially if high blood pressure is present in the arteries that go between the heart and lungs. Stimulants (such as coffee and tea, alcohol or some types of cold, allergy or asthma remedies) will sometimes set off the extra beat.
Diagnosis of ectopic beats
One may be able to detect the premature heartbeats if they occur during a physical examination. An electrocardiogram can confirm it.
Identifying what triggers the extra beat can be helpful. By avoiding the trigger, it may be possible to eliminate the extra beat.
However, if this is not possible and frequent, intolerable palpitations are present, drugs to control irregular heart rhythms are helpful.
If the extra heartbeat happens often, it can - but does not always - set off atrial fibrillation.