Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. 
An ectopic pacemaker or ectopic focus is an excitable group of cells that causes a premature heart beat outside the normally functioning SA node of the human heart. Acute occurrence is usually non-life threatening, but chronic occurrence can progress into ventricular fibrillation.
Ectopic pacemakers can occur within healthy hearts in response to various stimulating events, such as:
An ectopic pacemaker can reside within a part of the conduction system of the heart, or within the muscle cells of the atria or ventricles. When an ectopic pacemaker initiates a beat, premature contraction occurs. A premature contraction will not follow the normal signal transduction pathway, and can render the heart refractory or incapable of transmitting the normal signal from the SA node.
On an ECG, the QRS complex will be abnormally shaped. It can be perceived as a skipped beat on both the ECG and through normal pulse-taking.
- ↑ Carol, Mattson, Port. Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States 7th Ed, Pg 588. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005. ISBN 0-7817-4988-3
- ↑ Keller-Wood, Maureen. "Electrical Activity in the Heart." Lecture at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, 23-Oct-2007.
Clinical cardiac electrophysiology
Electrical conduction system of the heart
|Circulatory system pathology (I, 390-459)|
|Hypertension||Hypertensive heart disease - Hypertensive nephropathy - Secondary hypertension (Renovascular hypertension)|
|Ischaemic heart disease||Angina pectoris (Prinzmetal's angina) - Myocardial infarction (heart attack) - Dressler's syndrome|
|Pulmonary circulation||Pulmonary embolism - Cor pulmonale|
|Pericardium||Pericarditis - Pericardial effusion - Cardiac tamponade|
|Endocardium/heart valves||Endocarditis - mitral valve (regurgitation, prolapse, stenosis) - aortic valve (stenosis, insufficiency) - pulmonary valve (stenosis, insufficiency) - tricuspid valve (stenosis, insufficiency)|
|Myocardium||Myocarditis - Cardiomyopathy (Dilated cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Loeffler endocarditis, Restrictive cardiomyopathy) - Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia|
|Electrical conduction system|
of the heart
|Heart block: AV block (First degree, Second degree, Third degree) - Bundle branch block (Left, Right) - Bifascicular block - Trifascicular block|
Pre-excitation syndrome (Wolff-Parkinson-White, Lown-Ganong-Levine) - Long QT syndrome - Adams-Stokes syndrome - Cardiac arrest - Sudden cardiac death
Arrhythmia: Paroxysmal tachycardia (Supraventricular, AV nodal reentrant, Ventricular) - Atrial flutter - Atrial fibrillation (Familial) - Ventricular fibrillation - Premature contraction (Atrial, Ventricular) - Ectopic pacemaker - Sick sinus syndrome
|Other heart conditions||Heart failure - Cardiovascular disease - Cardiomegaly - Ventricular hypertrophy (Left, Right)|
|Cerebrovascular diseases||Stroke - Transient ischemic attack - Intracranial hemorrhage/cerebral hemorrhage: Extra-axial hemorrhage (Epidural hemorrhage, Subdural hemorrhage, Subarachnoid hemorrhage)|
Intra-axial hematoma (Intraventricular hemorrhages, Intraparenchymal hemorrhage) - Anterior spinal artery syndrome - Binswanger's disease - Moyamoya disease
|Atherosclerosis (Renal artery stenosis) - Aortic dissection/Aortic aneurysm (Abdominal aortic aneurysm) - Aneurysm - Raynaud's phenomenon/Raynaud's disease - Buerger's disease - Vasculitis/Arteritis (Aortitis) - Intermittent claudication - Arteriovenous fistula - Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia - Spider angioma - Dissection (Carotid artery, Vertebral artery)|
|Veins, lymphatic vessels|
and lymph nodes
|Thrombosis/Phlebitis/Thrombophlebitis (Deep vein thrombosis, May-Thurner syndrome, Portal vein thrombosis, Venous thrombosis, Budd-Chiari syndrome, Renal vein thrombosis, Paget-Schroetter disease) - Varicose veins / Portacaval anastomosis (Hemorrhoid, Esophageal varices, Varicocele, Gastric varices, Caput medusae) - Superior vena cava syndrome - Lymph (Lymphadenitis, Lymphedema, Lymphangitis)|
|Other||Hypotension (Orthostatic hypotension) - Rheumatic fever|
|See also congenital (Q20-Q28, 745-747) |