Premature Contractions


Premature atrial contractions (PAC) and premature ventricular contractions (PVC) are among the most common forms of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm). PAC is a condition resulting from premature electrical activation originating in the upper chambers (atrium) of the heart, while PVC originates in one of the two lower chambers (ventricles). Both conditions result in a premature contraction.

PAC and PVC occur in many healthy people and rarely cause symptoms. These conditions, however, are also common among people with underlying heart disease, including a history of heart attack, as well as those with a family history of cardiac arrhythmias. These premature contractions may be reduced by limiting coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol consumption as well as by reducing stress and anxiety in your life.

Treating PAC and PVC
PAC and PVC can be detected during a physical examination and confirmed by an electrocardiogram (EKG), which is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart. Even when these contractions occur frequently and cause sustained palpitations, serious treatment is rarely necessary. Antiarrhythmic drugs, such as beta-blocker medications or calcium-channel blockers, are usually effective.