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. Continue Reading
"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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