A premature ventricular beat (PVB) is an extra heartbeat caused by abnormal electrical activity. It starts in the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) before a normal heartbeat occurs. PVB interferes with the heart’s normal rhythm and causes a pause before the next heartbeat. It may feel like a heartbeat is skipped.
PVBs are common, especially among the elderly. They can occur in people who are healthy, in which case they are harmless. However, when they occur after a
or heart surgery they can lead to dangerous heart rhythms. In some cases, these rhythms can cause sudden death. You should contact your doctor right away if you suspect you have PVBs after a heart attack or heart surgery.
A beat (contraction) of the lower chambers of the heart.
Ambulatory or holter monitoring
—continuous cardiac monitoring. This may be used if you have symptoms but heart rhythm disturbance does not show up on an ECG. This type of monitoring is helpful because it measures heart activity over a longer period of time.
—shows an image and function of heart structures using ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves).
In most cases, no treatment is needed. However, it can be helpful to reduce stress and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. If a medication you are taking may be causing the PVBs, talk with your doctor about whether you should reduce the dose or change medications.
You may need to take medication if you have significant symptoms from PVBs, have heart disease, or if the pattern of the PVBs indicates a risk of developing more serious heart rhythm problems. Beta-blockers are generally tried first since they are relatively safe medications. Antiarrhythmic drugs may be used, but they may also increase the chances of developing dangerous heart rhythms. Other medications that may be used include calcium channel blockers. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.
To help reduce your chances of having PVBs:
If you smoke, quit
If you consume caffeine and/or alcohol, do so in moderation
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a