Dear Dr. Roach: I am 82 years old and still very active. I have had an irregular heartbeat for four years, and sometimes I feel lightheaded, dizzy or tired. I worry about it getting worse. Would you please give a detailed explanation about irregular heartbeat, including how or why it happens? What I should do to prevent it from getting worse? Is it life threatening? Will it become atrial fibrillation?
Also, I am a chocolate lover and eat dark chocolate every day. But I was told that cocoa will make my irregular heartbeat worse and I should stop eating dark chocolate. Is that true? Q.Y.
Answer: Everyone has irregular heartbeats from time to time. Early beats can come from electrically active areas anywhere in the heart, and an electrocardiogram can tell whether they are from the atria (the top chambers) or the ventricles (the bottom chambers) of the heart.