What Are Ventricular Premature Complexes?
Your heart is
responsible for pumping blood and oxygen throughout your body. The heart
performs this function by expanding and contracting. This movement is what
produces your heartbeat.
is regulated by a unique electrical system. Although this electrical system
consistently produces the signals needed for your heart to beat in a predicable
manner, there are times when the signal can become disrupted. When this
happens, an irregular heartbeat can occur, and it may feel as if your heart has
skipped a beat.
conditions can disrupt your heartbeat. Some are life-threatening, but others
can be quite benign. Ventricular premature complexes are one example of a
benign condition that can cause an irregular heartbeat. In fact, most people
experience this condition at some point in their lives. This condition can
occur at random times or in regular patterns.
premature complexes are also known as:
ventricular contractions (PVCs)
Recognizing a Ventricular Premature Complex
experience ventricular premature complexes, you may not notice any symptoms. If
symptoms are noticeable, they may include:
sensation that your heart is fluttering
sensation that your heart is pounding or jumping in your chest
sensation that your heart has skipped a beat
In some cases,
the heartbeat that occurs after the ventricular premature complex may be so
forceful that you feel pain or discomfort in your chest. If you have frequent or prolonged ventricular
premature complexes, this may reduce your heart’s ability to pump blood
efficiently. This can also cause additional symptoms, which
are serious and should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.
What Causes Ventricular Premature Complexes?
premature complexes occur when the upper chambers of your heart contract sooner
than the rest of your heart. When this happens, your heartbeat becomes out of sync.
You may feel a regular heartbeat, an extra heartbeat, a pause, and then a
stronger heartbeat. The extra heartbeat is the ventricular premature complex.
It is not as strong as a normal beat and does not pump all of the blood out of
the heart. This causes the heartbeat that follows to be stronger because more
force is needed to pump the extra blood out of the heart.
ventricular premature complexes are common, doctors are not always able to
identify what causes them. Factors that may contribute to the development of
ventricular premature complexes include:
certain types of medications, such as stimulants and asthma medications
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing
Ventricular Premature Complexes?
develop ventricular premature complexes, though the condition is more common in
people over the age of 50. Ventricular premature complexes are commonly seen in
patients with heart disease. Patients who have a family history of cardiac
problems may also be more likely to develop this condition.
How Are Ventricular Premature Complexes
complexes can be difficult to diagnose. If these irregular heartbeats occur
randomly, your doctor may not be able to detect them during your appointment.
If you report
symptoms of ventricular premature complexes to your doctor, they may order additional
tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:
test records the electrical actions of the heart, including the speed of the
technique uses sound waves to project a moving picture of your heart onto a
screen, providing the doctor with very detailed images of the heart’s chambers
In this test,
a catheter is placed in an artery, usually in the groin or the arm, and then
carefully moved until it is in the heart. A contrast agent is then pumped into
the catheter and monitored through X-ray images, allowing doctors to observe
how blood is flowing through your heart
This is a
device that your doctor will give you to take home and wear. It records your
heart’s activity over a 24-hour period.
Similar to a
Holter monitor, this is a device that you wear. It records heart activity when
you experience a skipped heartbeat.
How Are Ventricular Premature Complexes
this condition will depend on your overall health and the cause of your
ventricular premature complexes.
If you are
healthy and do not have any underlying heart problems, you may not need
treatment. Your doctor may simply recommend that you avoid stimulants, such as
caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol. Your doctor may also recommend that you find
ways to control your stress and anxiety levels.
Drugs and Medication
ventricular premature complexes are caused by an underlying health condition,
treatment of the condition will be needed.
are not successful, your doctor may recommend a procedure known as ablation.
During this procedure, radiofrequency waves are used to destroy the damaged
heart tissue that is causing the extra heartbeats to occur.
What Is the Outlook for a Patient with this
patients with ventricular premature complexes is quite good. In many cases, patients
will not require treatment. If you have heart disease or other health issues,
treatment for these issues should alleviate symptoms of ventricular premature
How Can Ventricular Premature Complexes Be
You can help
prevent ventricular premature complexes by making lifestyle changes. Most
importantly, you should limit caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use. Try to also
find healthy ways to manage your anxiety and stress, such as exercising or
talking with a trusted friend.