Premature Ventricular Contractions | Arrhythmia Treatments | MedStar Health

Extra heartbeats that begin in the heart’s two lower pumping chambers

Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) occur when an early electrical pulse and contraction in one of the heart’s lower chambers, the ventricles, disrupt your normal heartbeat. The beat following the early pulse may be uncomfortable or painful. PVCs are a common type of abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia). This extra heartbeat may feel like a fluttering sensation or like your heart skipped a beat.

Most PVCs are harmless and may be caused by certain triggers, including anxiety, caffeine, or exercise. However, if you have had a previous heart attack or have structural heart disease or heart disease, you may be at a higher risk for developing a more serious arrhythmia or cardiomyopathy.

Evaluation of PVCs not only includes EKGs to help your physician determine where in the heart the rhythm originates, it also includes an assessment of the frequency of the PVCs. Frequent PVCs can cause damage to the heart over time and need treatment before irreversible damage occurs. Our center for complex arrhythmias specializes in treating such conditions.

Symptoms

When a heartbeat starts in a lower chamber instead of in the upper chambers, it can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood. This can cause symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness

  • Feeling weak

  • Syncope or fainting

Electrophysiology program

We are leaders in developing and using the latest procedures and technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders, and our cardiac electrophysiology laboratory is one of the most sophisticated in North America.

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Tests

Diagnosing PVCs is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend exercise testing or an imaging procedure.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Event monitors

An event monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but where an electrocardiogram takes place over a few minutes, an event monitor measures heart rhythms over a much longer time.

Holter monitors

A Holter monitor is a small device that records the heart’s electrical activity. It’s similar to an electrocardiogram, but whereas an electrocardiogram records over a few minutes, a Holter monitor records over the course of a day or two.

Loop recorder

A loop recorder is a device that’s implanted underneath the skin of your chest to record your heart rhythm for up to three years.

Arrhythmia treatments (heart rhythm)

Treatments for arrhythmias, or heart rhythm disorders, such as minimally invasive procedures, implantable devices, and surgery, vary based on the type and severity of your condition.

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.