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Premature Ventricular Contraction (PVC)

Twenty-five percent of patients may have premature or extra heartbeats. Premature ventricular contractions are extra heartbeats originating in the ventricle (lower heart chamber) that occur earlier than expected and briefly interrupt the heart rhythm. They often cause a sensation of “flip-flop” or “skipped beats.” In reality, the heart does not “skip a beat.” What is really felt is not the PVC. A PVC is followed by a pause that causes the next heartbeat to be more forceful. The patient feels this more forceful heartbeat. Most young people with PVCs have a normal heart and usually no medical treatment is necessary. On the other hand, a cardiovascular evaluation and blood tests are usually performed to identify a cause and rule out risk factors, heart disease, and/or congenital heart defects. There are rare causes for PVCs (inflammation of the heart, heart tumors, thyroid problems, electrolyte imbalance, heart disease, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, heart surgery, medications, electrical disorders, caffeine, etc) but most of the time PVCs are idiopathic (a cause is not found). That is why more tests are usually recommended to make sure that your heart is okay. If testing shows no significant abnormalities with the heart, our policy is not to treat PVCs unless they become very annoying or produce certain dangerous EKG patterns.

 

Dr Villafañe is a cardiac electrophysiologist who specializes in this type of arrhythmias and will check for any risk factors that may be associated with PVCs.

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