By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Irregular heartbeats are not something that should be ignored. Every now and then when I am examining someone I notice that they have an irregular heartbeat. It is often relatively easy for me to make a diagnosis but sometimes further testing is needed or I refer my patient to a cardiologist for advice on management.

But when I tell my patients about the heartbeat I am often surprised by the fact that they say they knew that they had something wrong and could feel it but chose to ignore the problem.

Many of us ignore certain problems like back pain or muscle pulls, but when you have an irregular heartbeat you should not ignore it. In fact, if it is a certain type of problem like atrial fibrillation you could put yourself at greater risk for flipping a blood clot to your brain.

Please believe me when I say that if you are experiencing irregular heart beats you should have it checked out.