Premature Contractions - PACs and PVCs

Updated:Dec 15,2016

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.

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