Ventricular premature contraction

Other names: Premature ventricular contractions

DEFINITION

Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of your heart's two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a flip-flop or skipped beat in your chest.

SYMPTOMS

Premature ventricular contractions often cause no symptoms. But you may feel an odd sensation in your chest, such as flip-flops, fluttering, pounding, skipped beats, or increased awareness of your heartbeat.

CAUSES

Premature ventricular contractions are abnormal contractions that begin in the ventricles. They may be associated with chemical imbalances, certain medications, alcohol or illegal drugs, increased adrenaline levels, or heart muscle injury.

RISK FACTORS

Stimulants like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, exercise, high blood pressure, anxiety, and underlying heart diseases can increase the risk of premature ventricular contractions.

COMPLICATIONS

Frequent premature ventricular contractions can lead to heart rhythm problems or cardiomyopathy. In rare cases with underlying heart disease, they can result in dangerous heart rhythms and sudden cardiac death.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Before your appointment with a doctor or cardiologist for premature ventricular contractions, it's helpful to note down your symptoms, medical information, personal information, and questions for the doctor. Family history of heart problems and triggers for your symptoms should also be considered.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

An electrocardiogram (ECG) can detect premature ventricular contractions and any underlying heart disease. Different types of ECG tests are available based on the frequency of the extra beats.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Most people with PVCs and a normal heart won't need treatment. Lifestyle changes like avoiding triggers and medications like beta blockers may be used if necessary. Radiofrequency catheter ablation is an option for severe cases.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Self-care strategies include tracking triggers, modifying substance use (caffeine, alcohol), managing stress through relaxation techniques or medications.


QUESTIONS

  1. What are Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)?

Extra abnormal heartbeats originating from the ventricles disrupting normal rhythm.

  1. What symptoms can PVCs cause?

Sensations like flip-flops, fluttering, pounding, skipped beats in the chest.

  1. When should you see a doctor regarding PVCs?

If you experience odd chest sensations like skipped heartbeats or if you have concerns about your heart health.

  1. What are the common causes of PVCs?

Triggers like chemical imbalances, medications, alcohol; conditions like high blood pressure; and underlying heart diseases.

  1. What factors increase the risk of PVCs?

Stimulants (caffeine), tobacco, alcohol; exercise; anxiety; and underlying heart diseases.

  1. Can PVCs lead to complications?

Yes, frequent PVCs can result in arrhythmias or cardiomyopathy; rarely leading to sudden cardiac death with underlying heart disease.

  1. How are PVCs diagnosed?

Through tests like electrocardiogram (ECG) which can detect extra beats and any associated heart issues.

  1. Do all individuals with PVCs require treatment?

No, most individuals with normal hearts do not need treatment for PVCs unless symptoms are bothersome or there is underlying heart disease.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help manage PVCs?

Avoiding triggers like caffeine or tobacco; managing stress; and tracking symptoms can help control PVCs.

  1. What treatment options are available for severe cases of PVCs?

Medications like beta blockers may be used; radiofrequency catheter ablation is an option if lifestyle changes and medications are ineffective.