You’ve heard about it in love songs and romantic movies – the protagonist notices a beautiful woman and their heart skips a beat, signaling the beginning of their fall into blissful and euphoric love.
In reality, the feeling of your heart skipping a beat is a little more frightening and, potentially, a lot more serious. Your heart skipping a beat is known as a heart palpitation, and a repeated disruption of its rhythmic beat can turn into an arrhythmia – a potentially serious condition. Have you ever felt your heartbeat flutter or pause?
The answer may be linked to your dietary habits, medications, or stress rather than love. Read on to learn some of the most common causes of a skipped heartbeat.
#1. Alcohol: Alcohol can lower your blood pressure, meaning your heart has to work harder to ensure that the blood circulating in your body gets to where it needs to go. Consuming large amounts of alcohol at a time, or binge drinking, can cause your heart’s rhythm to falter and result in a skipped beat, as can a small amount for someone who drinks regularly.
#2. Caffeine: Just like alcohol, too much caffeine can affect the way your heart beats. This is especially true for energy drinks and shots that contain high levels of the stimulant in smaller doses. Even excessive consumption of coffee and black or green teas can increase your heart rate and make it feel as though your heart has skipped a beat if you are sensitive to caffeine. (Amazing miracle molecule helps improve blood circulation.)
#3. Stress: Anxiety and stress can cause your heart to flutter, as your body reacts to stressors with the fight-or-flight response. Similarly, a sudden devastating event, like the loss of a loved one, can trigger something known as broken heart syndrome, a condition in which the sufferer may feel as though they are having a heart attack and their heart is skipping beats.
#5. Dehydration: Dehydration can lower your blood pressure and cause electrolyte imbalances. As a result, the heart has to work harder, feeling as though it has skipped a beat.
#6. Medications: Stimulant medications like those used to treat ADHD and depression can sometimes cause heart palpitations that feel like skipped beats. Similarly, some smokers have reported feeling disruptions in their heartbeat rhythms due to the effects of the stimulant nicotine.
#7. Overeating: Consuming too large of a meal can stretch the stomach and cause your heart to flutter as it works to send blood to the stomach tissue to aid in digestion. These palpitations may feel like your heart is skipping a beat, though it is temporary.
Some of the most common reasons your heart skips a beat are tied to your dietary habits, stress, and medications, so as long as these palpitations are temporary and infrequent, there is most likely nothing to be worried about. However, if you experience these flutters in conjunction with other symptoms, like chest pain and/or dizziness, contact your doctor as they may be indicative of a more serious condition.