Premature ventricular contractions (PVC) are when the heart’s ventricles disrupt the normal heart rhythm and beat out of sync: a normal heart beat, an extra beat (PVC), followed by a pause and then a strong beat. PVCs can happen at regular intervals or randomly.
PVCs can occur in healthy people and pose no risk. But those that happen frequently or over a prolonged period require care and attention from physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating PVCs, which can be caused by heart disease. PVCs can also be related to a heart injury, chemical imbalances in the body, some asthma medications, alcohol use, caffeine, exercise or a spike in adrenaline due to stress or anxiety.
Symptoms of PVC may include palpitations, the feeling of a “skipped” heart beat, fluttering sensations in the chest or neck, as well as lightheadedness, shortness of breath and fainting, if a PVC is prolonged.
Infrequent PVCs for people with no other symptoms and no existing heart disease or heart problems typically do not require medical treatment. They can usually be addressed with changes such as a curtailing or eliminating caffeine or alcohol, reducing anxiety and stress or modifying routine medications that may be contributing to PVCs.
PVCs related to heart disease or a structural heart abnormality may include the following treatments:
- Heart medications such as a beta blocker or calcium channel blockers.
- Radiofrequency ablation or cryoablation
- Coronary bypass graft surgery