Table of Contents
- What are premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)?
- What happens during a premature ventricular contraction?
- How common are premature ventricular contractions?
- What causes premature ventricular contractions?
- What are premature ventricular contraction symptoms?
- What are the dangers of premature ventricular contractions?
- How is premature ventricular contraction diagnosed (EKG and Holter)?
- How is premature ventricular contraction diagnosed (echo and stress test)?
- How is premature ventricular contraction diagnosed (ECST and blood tests)?
- What are the reasons for treating premature ventricular contractions?
- What medications treat premature ventricular contractions?
What causes premature ventricular contractions?
There are many causes of premature ventricular contractions, which include
- heart attack;
- high blood pressure;
- cardiomyopathy, including congestive heart failure;
- disease of heart valves such as mitral valve prolapse;
- hypokalemia (low blood levels of potassium), and hypomagnesaemia (low blood levels of magnesium) -- hypokalemia and hypomagnesaemia can occur, for example, in patients taking diuretics (water pills);
- hypoxia (low amounts of oxygen in the blood), for example, hypoxia occurs with lung diseases such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
- medications such as digoxin (Lanoxin), aminophylline (Phyllocontin, Truphylline), tricyclic antidepressants, and ephedrine-containing, decongestants;
- excessive intake of alcohol;
- excess caffeine intake;
- stimulant drug use such as cocaine, and amphetamines;
- myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) and cardiac contusion (heart muscle injury), and
- premature ventricular contractions also occur in healthy individuals without heart diseases.
"Sudden Cardiac Arrest." Cleveland Clinic. March 2010.
Simpson, R. J. Jr., et al. "Prevalence of premature ventricular contractions in a population of African American and white men and women: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study." American Heart Journal 143.3 (2002): 535-540.
Zipes, Douglas P. and Hein J. J. Wellens. "Sudden cardiac death." Circulation 98.21 (1998): 2334-2351.
Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, board certified in internal medicine with a subspecialty in cardiovascular disease.
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