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Premature Atrial Contractions, Ambulatory Care

Premature atrial contractions (PACs)

are an interruption in your heart rhythm. PACs happen when your heart gets an early signal to pump. PACs are common and usually have no cause. Your risk is increased by stress, fatigue, caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco. Pregnancy and medical conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure may also increase your risk. Most people have skipped heartbeats from time to time. Follow up with your healthcare provider so the cause of your PAC can be diagnosed and treated.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Palpitations (fast, forceful heartbeats in an irregular rhythm)
  • A missed or skipped heartbeat
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or feeling faint
  • Tiredness with exercise or activity

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
  • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

Treatment for PACs

is usually not needed. You may be given medicine to strengthen or regulate your heartbeat.

Prevent more PACs:

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. These can increase your PACs.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking may worsen heart problems. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
  • Exercise as directed. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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