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Premature Atrial Contractions


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

Call 911 for any of the following:

You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:

  • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
  • You may also have any of the following:
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms do not go away, or they get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for PACs

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

Prevent more PACs:

  • Do not have alcohol or caffeine. These can increase your PACs.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase heart problems. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise helps keep your heart healthy. 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.

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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.

Learn more about Premature Atrial Contractions (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.