Premature contraction = early beat
If you've ever felt your heart "skip a beat," it was probably from this early beat that disrupts the heart's rhythm.
How it works
In reality, the heart doesn't skip a beat. Instead an extra beat comes sooner than normal. Then there's usually a pause that causes the next beat to be more forceful. You felt this more-forceful beat.
Types of premature contractions
- Premature atrial contractions (PACs) start in the upper chambers of the heart (atria).
- Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) start in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).
Who is likely to have premature contractions?
- Most people have them at some time.
- Premature beats are very common in normal children and teenagers.
Causes of premature contractions
- Usually no cause can be found.
- Occasionally premature beats may be caused by disease or injury to the heart. Your doctor may recommend more tests to make sure your heart is OK.
Treatment of premature contractions
- Those without identifiable cause usually disappear on their own.
- If a cause is found, your healthcare professional will recommend a treatment plan.
This content was last reviewed September 2016.