Heart & Cardiology/Ectopic beats



I am suffering from ectopic heartbeats that seem to often come every beat for a whole day or what feels like in 3's constantly for a while.  My cardiologist said benign but I am worried that these chaotic prolonged beats will cause me to faint and I am frightened of fainting.  Can you tell me if I need to worry. They used to only come so often but now rather aggressive. Also what is the difference between this and atrial fibrillation and could I tell the difference?

Do you know of anything that can help these beats.  I have heard of 'breathing programmes" , what do you think of these? How much can i rely on your answer?
Thank you so much,



Hello Louise,

Ectopic beats, no matter how frequent, are normal heart activity, easy to understand as normal from knowledge of the heart's electrical system and occurring in about half of us.  They don't mean you have heart disease or will in the future develop heart disease or any cardiac catastrophe.   You need not worry.  You will not faint.  Atrial fibrillation makes the heart beat irregular all the time.

The only effective treatment I know about is medicines.  Beta blockers like atenolol and metoprolol reduce ectopics in many people and are very safe.  There are some other effective medicine, too.  I think you need no treatment.

Please write back if this note doesn’t answer all your questions.  Please let me know if you find any treatment that is helpful.

David Richardson

Heart & Cardiology

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David Richardson


Adult heart function and disease. Not very good about children lesss than 12. Hypertension is o.k. Heart rhythm a special interest.


Certified in cardiology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Was chairman of division of cardiology at the Medical College of Virginia. Am now mostly retired.

Fellow of American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology and member of American Physiological Society..

Circulation, American Heart Journal, Hypertension.

M.D. from Harvard Medical School. Residency training at Yale Uhniversity School of Medicine and Medical College of Virginia.

Awards and Honors
Gold Heartt Award from American Heart Association in 1995.

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