For a healthy heart to function, it should beat in a steady rhythm with the lower and upper chambers beating in a consistent pattern. After each heartbeat, there should be a slight pause and then the heartbeat resumes.
Irregular heartbeats and unusual heart rhythms are often labeled as either bigeminy or trigeminy, depending on the sequence of beats and irregularities within the heart. For example, with patients that suffer from bigeminy, each regular heartbeat is followed by another heartbeat that arrives prematurely, in a series of long and short beats. For sufferers of trigeminy, the heart tends to beat in an unusual three-beat pattern.
Don’t worry if you’re a little confused between bigeminy and trigeminy, we’re going to break down both of them for you.
What is Bigeminy
As mentioned before, if you suffer from bigeminy, each of your regular heartbeats is followed by a heartbeat that arrives too quickly. Each pair of beats are considered as “twins,” which is where the name bi – Gemini comes from.
In the medical world, if those early heartbeats come from the heart’s ventricles, they’re known as premature ventricular contractions or PVCs. If the early heartbeats emerge from the heart’s upper chambers, also known as the atria, then they’re referred to as premature atrial contractions (PACs.)
Whenever your heart beats, the right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs in order to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. The left ventricle pumps blood through the aorta to the entire body and while this is happening, the atria fill with blood and move it downwards into the ventricles, in preparation for the next heartbeat.
Blood will move into the ventricles between each heartbeat, however, you will feel a skipped beat if your heart has a premature contraction before the ventricles are able to fill with blood. The premature contraction will most likely feel different from a regular heartbeat because little or no blood at all is being pumped out of the heart. If your heart’s ventricles have had more time to fill with blood, your premature heartbeats will be more noticeable and the resulting sensation will make the heart feel like it’s faster than usual.
Causes of Bigeminy
There can be many causes of bigeminy, such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Chemical imbalances
If you do experience any of the symptoms of bigeminy, such as your heart beating faster than usual or your heart skipping a beat, then its crucial to contact a physician as soon as possible.
What is Trigeminy
The three-beat pattern that doctors call trigeminy is a pattern of either two normal beats and an irregular one or two irregular beats with a regular beat.
The heart has the ability to conduct its own electricity, that travels on a regular route. The electrical signals follow certain pathways and areas of the heart that communicate signals for the nearby heart muscle to beat. In the majority of people, electrical signals follow a designated pathway that can be traced with a portable EKG monitor.
In some patients, the electrical signals can follow a different path that results in abnormal heart rhythms. The cause of trigeminy is an irritable area of the heart, where another area of the heart emits a separate signal that has an effect on how the heart beats. This is a normal occurrence for some people, there’s nothing wrong with their health or heart, it just has a different rhythm in comparison to most of the world.
Causes of Trigeminy
It’s important to seek medical advice if you suffer from any of the symptoms of trigeminy. The symptoms are an elevated heart rate with a fluttering in the chest, chest pains, shortness of breath and syncope.
Trigeminy can also be temporarily triggered by certain substances, such as:
The Bottom Line
It can be difficult to spot the symptoms of bigeminy and trigeminy, so if you do notice any tightness in the chest area with unusual heartbeats, it’s important to get yourself booked in with your physician for an EKG, as soon as possible.