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Premature Ventricular Contractions

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What are premature ventricular contractions?

Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are an interruption in your heart rhythm. They are caused by an early signal for your heart to pump. Your risk of PVCs increases when you drink alcohol or caffeine, or if you are fatigued or stressed. It is very important for you to follow up with your healthcare provider so the cause of your PVC can be diagnosed and treated.

What are symptoms of PVCs?

  • A skipped heartbeat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or faintness
  • Tiredness with exercise or activity

How are PVCs diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask if you have a family history of heart problems. You may also need one or more of the following:

  • An EKG records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is used to check for PVCs.
  • A Holter monitor is a device that you wear for a period of time. It records how fast your heart beats, and if it beats in a regular pattern. You may need to wear it up to 72 hours. This will show how frequent your PVCs are during your normal daily activities.
  • An echocardiogram (echo) is a type of ultrasound that shows the movement and blood vessels of your heart on a monitor.

How are PVCs treated?

Your treatment will depend on the cause of your PVC. You may need any of the following:

  • Heart medicine may be given to make your heart beat at a regular rate and rhythm.
  • Cardiac ablation is a procedure that is used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You still have symptoms after treatment, or your symptoms worsen.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

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

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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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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