Cardiology

Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC)

PVC VideoPremature Ventricular Contractions, or PVCs, are “extra” heart beats that start in the lower portion of the heart. The normal pathway is  top-to-bottom.

Nearly all of the 100,000 beats that occur each day start from the top part of the heart named the atria. The atria holds the “pacemaker” cells, which set the rate.

Every heart cell has the ability to start a beat and PVCs do just that, reversing the pathway from bottom-top. These are typically self-limiting or only treated if symptoms are bothersome. In some cases, the condition may be reflective of underlying structural disease.

Symptoms

  • Patients typically described “skipped beats” or palpitations in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, passing out spells, or chest discomfort
Premature Ventricular Contractions

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Diagnostic Tests

Treatment

The first step is to find out how many Premature Ventricular Contractions are occurring.

  • An ultrasound is typically performed to rule out structural heart disease
  • An attempt is made to identify and remove possible triggers (caffeine, alcohol, stress, tobacco, energy drinks, some inhalers)
  • Beta blockers are medicines that are the treatment of choice for most cases
  • In very rare instances more aggressive medications or ablations are necessary

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