Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Are Irregular EKGs Dangerous?

Thursday, 27 October 2011 08:55 AM

Question: I am 59 years old and have had irregular EKGs for over 10 years now. I have been told I have an enlarged heart, and I often have heart palpitations. If there is heart disease in my family, should I be concerned? Is there any reason that I should see a cardiologist.
Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
An enlarged heart with family history of heart disease and new-onset of palpitations (heart flutters) of unknown type present a recipe for impending problems, perhaps serious. I recommend you be immediately evaluated.
See your personal medical doctor today without delay. If there will be a delay to see you, consider an evaluation at the emergency department of a nearby hospital, especially if you are having palpitations today. This way, you can sort out if these irregular beats are dangerous or not. Some irregular beats are warnings of heart irritability or poor circulation, even absent of chest pain, and must be evaluated by a professional as soon as possible. Some irregular beats demand emergency management and intervention, while others can be managed as an outpatient.
An emergency physician is experienced in managing complaints such as yours, and will advise you on the safest route to follow. You will not know until you have an evaluation.
Start asking yourself why your heart is enlarged, if it could suddenly stop without you being aware, and if the palpitations are isolated or a part of an ACS (acute coronary syndrome) that is developing. Then you will realize that you have no time to ponder these questions. You may not get much more warning than this prior to a cardiac arrest.

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