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Emily asked...

I have had an ectopic heartbeat for about 4 or 5 years.

Tags: heart , pregnancy

Hello, I have had an ectopic heartbeat for about 4 or 5 years - I don't take any medication for this and I only saw a cardiologist for tests and diagnosis. I sometimes get pains, like a stitch, in my chest and the odd extra beat here or there, but nothing that usually worries me (I am used it it now). However, I am currently 30 weeks pregnant and a few weeks ago, my heartbeat was continuously erratic and my chest felt a little sore for about 3 days. It was more annoying than anything else. I wondered if this was due to my heart having to work harder to pump the extra blood around my system (due to my pregnancy)? I also wondered whether I should ask the midwives to keep a close eye on my heartbeat when I am in labour? Many thanks for your help, in advance.

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The answer

An ectopic heart beat is a very common occurrence that is not serious and usually nothing to worry about. Some people do get a sensation of the heart missing a beat on occasion, but the majority of people never know they even have the odd ectopic beat. It could be possible that now you are pregnant you have developed a different reason for an irregular heartbeat. Without wanting to worry you too much (because you now feel well again it is unlikely to be very serious) but it is important you get checked out as very soon. Your doctor needs to examine you and check your blood pressure. An ECG will be able to confirm if your heart is beating correctly. Your doctor should also check your thyroid function and Hb/blood count (a blood test) as both can sometimes change during pregnancy and cause an irregular heartbeat. Midwives should always be informed about any new symptoms or diagnoses you have during pregnancy, so they can decide what type of monitoring is needed or if they need any extra help from doctors during labour.

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