Simply put, it means out of place. In this case implying the extra beat is not only out of place in terms of timing but also the location of its origin within the heart.
There is usually a short pause after an ectopic, giving the additional sensation of a ‘missed’ beat. In fact, many people who experience ectopics only feel the sensation of missed beats, not the ectopics themselves.
The normal heart beats regularly as it is driven by the heart’s pacemaker, called the sinus node. However, all cells in the heart have the ability to trigger their own heartbeat independently of the sinus node. If this occurs, it causes an early (or premature) heartbeat, known as an ectopic, also called an extra beat. As ectopics occur earlier than expected, they can cause the sensation of a brief palpitation, usually a momentary fluttering in the chest, and this is often associated with a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety. Ectopic beats needn’t cause symptoms at all.
To book a consultation with Dr Segal, an Ectopic Beats Cardiologist in London, get in touch here to discuss your availability.