Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC)

Premature ventricular contraction (PVC) is an abnormal heartbeat in which the ventricle contracts early without receiving a signal from the AV node.

The electrical system of the heart is made up of several parts that communicate with one another to signal the heart muscle fibers when to contract. The SA node starts the signal causing the atria to contract. This signal travels through the AV node and on to the bundle of His, bundle branches, and Purkinje fibers causing the ventricles to contract. The flow of electrical signals is what produces a normal heartbeat.

PVCs are caused by an abnormal firing of electrical signals in the ventricles that interfere with the normal electrical signal pathways of the heart. PVCs are also called heart palpitations and are most often transient. PVCs are common and can occur in individuals without heart disease. Most often, these arrhythmias as harmless and certain lifestyle changes can help prevent PVCs. PVCs are more common in children. PVCs in adults can be caused by anxiety, caffeine, exercise and certain drugs or medications.

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