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Could irregular heartbeat be due to infection?

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Practicing since : 2002
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Hi, I started having irregular heartbeats one week ago. It's accompanied by a mild temperature rise, 37.6C, which comes down to 37.2 when I take Ibuprofen. It comes in attacks and it lasts for a few minutes, occurring 3-5 times a minute. It comes more when I'm resting and it keeps me awake. It seems to lessen when I walk or do some exercise. Could this be some kind of infection?
Posted Thu, 12 Apr 2012 in Heart Rate and Rhythm Disorders
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 11 minutes later
Hello and thank you for your query.

In your case we need to consider what is causing the temperature and also what is causing the irregular heartbeat. As far as fever is concerned any time our temperature rises the average pulse will also increase. If you are experiencing irregular heartbeats in addition to the fever this does provide me with some degree of concern.

In the absence of any other symptoms other than fever I would really feel more comfortable sending you to the emergency department or to see your primary care provider to make sure there is not something serious going on. I am not trying to scare you but I really want to make sure we are not missing something such as endocarditis. This is an infection which can cause fever as well as irregular heart function and heart rate. It is very treatable with antibiotics. It is also quite possible that you have just a viral illness. Viruses such as the flu can cause these kinds of things. Generally, however they only last a few days.

I would say that if you have the time and the ability to visit with a physician that you do so as soon as possible. This way a physician can thoroughly examine you and possibly check some blood tests to make sure we are not dealing with something serious. I hope you understand my concern in this situation.

Thank you again for submitting your question. If you have additional concerns regarding this I am available to address them.


Dr. Robert
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Follow-up: Could irregular heartbeat be due to infection? 17 hours later
Thank you for your answer, Dr XXXXXXX I will see my GP on Monday and hopefully he will know what to do, but to be honest, I haven't had the best experience with this GP before and that's why I'm trying to do some investigation myself.

The one thing that I find strange, and as I mentioned this in my question, is that the irregularity in heart beats lessens and sometimes completely goes away when I start moving about such as walking, jogging. Doing any physical activity doesn't make me tired or out of breath. The other thing is that the slight fever started with the irregular heartbeats eight days ago and it's persistent. So I would say it could be that the irregluar heartbets accompany something that also causes slight fever.

Someone mentined to me that a valve might have a problem to open when there is no pressure and work well when there is some activity. Could you please comment on this?

Thank you very much!
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 6 hours later
Thank you for your follow-up question.

It is certainly interesting that physical activity helps to resolve the irregularity. As your friend mentioned sometimes changes in pressure within the heart can help to normalize some irregularity. As to whether there might be a problem with a heart valve I am doubtful that this is the case but it is certainly a remote possibility. In order to fully take care of this an EKG as well as maybe an echocardiogram need to be performed. The EKG can help us find out if there is any electrical abnormality and the echocardiogram will give us a good picture of the heart muscle as well as the valves in the heart to see how they are functioning.

The only things I can think of which clause and irregularity in the heart rate and fever would be something like to dehydration or some kind of viral infection or bacterial infection which affects the heart. Again this is referred to as endocarditis. In endocarditis the heart valves can be infected and can cause serious abnormalities in the heart rate. These people are usually quite sick but there are some cases where a mild fever is the only presenting symptoms. This is why I really think you need to see a physician to discuss this. I understand your hesitancy to see your doctor for you to visit with to discuss the situation.

Again it is quite difficult to address this without the ability to examine you in person. I am doing my best to try to help you along these lines. Again I thank you for submitting your question and follow up. If there are additional concerns regarding this please do not hesitate to ask.


Dr. Robert.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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