Premature Heartbeat: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A premature heartbeat happens when the heart beats earlier than it should. This briefly interrupts the heart's rhythm. You do not usually feel the early heartbeat, and the next beat is stronger. To many people, this feels like a skipped heartbeat or a flutter.

If you have no heart problems, premature heartbeats are not a cause for concern. Most people have them at some time. They may happen more often if you drink a lot of caffeine or alcohol or are under stress.

Usually, no cause for a premature heartbeat is found, and no treatment is needed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Limit caffeine and other stimulants if they trigger premature heartbeats.
  • Reduce stress. Avoid people and places that make you feel anxious, if you can. Learn ways to reduce stress, such as biofeedback, guided imagery, and meditation.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Get at least 2½ hours of exercise a week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
  • Get enough sleep. Keep your room dark and quiet, and try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Limit alcohol to 3 drinks a day for men and 2 drinks a day for women. Too much alcohol can cause health problems. If drinking alcohol causes more premature heartbeats, do not drink it.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicine, take it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You are short of breath.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: December 6, 2017