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Premature Ventricular Contraction

Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are abnormalities in your heart's rhythm.

PVCs are common and often not serious. But, they could be a sign of a heart rhythm disorder.

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What Are Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)?

A premature ventricular contraction (PVC) happens when a heartbeat occurs earlier than it should, interrupting your heart's normal rhythm. It feels like your heart skipped a beat or fluttered.

Your heart's lower chambers beat early, followed by a pause, and then a stronger heartbeat.

PVCs are common and happen to most people at some point in their lives. Most PVCs are mild and not serious.

If you already have heart disease or heart failure, PVCs can be a sign you're developing a potentially dangerous heart rhythm.

Premature ventricular contraction causes

The causes of PVCs aren't known, but some factors seem to increase the risk such as:

  • Having too much or too little of certain electrolytes in your body.
  • Having too little oxygen in your blood.
  • Some drugs, including common asthma medicines.
  • Overuse of caffeine or alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Anxiety.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart disease or heart failure.

Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC) Symptoms and Diagnosis

PVC symptoms

The main symptom of a PVC is a feeling of a fluttering in your heart or a skipped heartbeat. It may feel like a small pounding in your chest.

You may also notice your heart beating more than you normally do.

You should seek emergency care if you have fluttering in your heart along with:

  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Fainting

These could be signs of a more serious heart problem.

Diagnosing premature ventricular contractions

Your doctor will perform a physical exam to learn if there's a more serious heart condition causing your PVCs.

To help confirm a PVC diagnosis, he or she might order imaging scans or other tests such as:

  • An EKG
  • A portable device that tracks your heart rhythm

Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC) Treatment

Most PVCs don't need treatment and resolve on their own if you have no other heart problems.

Lifestyle changes for PVCs

To help ease or eliminate PVC symptoms, try:

  • Quitting smoking.
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine.
  • Managing stress.
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet.

Your doctor may prescribe medicine if you're at risk of getting a more serious heart rhythm disorder, such as arrhythmia.