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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have PVCs, and what’s the best treatment?

PVCs, premature ventricular complexes, are extra heart beats originating in the ventricles.

While PVCs can be a sign that underlying heart disease is present, and while sometimes they provide a clue that a patient may be at high risk for sudden death, in the large majority of individuals PVCs are completely benign, and have no particular significance at all.  While PVCs can cause palpitations, in most cases they do not produce any symptoms.

Unfortunately, many doctors take an unnecessarily alarmist attitude toward PVCs.  Despite what doctors may have been taught in medical school 20 or 30 years ago, these arrhythmias are rarely dangerous in and of themselves, and rarely require treatment.  Indeed, in some patients the treatment of PVCs with antiarrhythmic drugs is actually quite risky, and should be actively avoided.

Finding PVCs on a routine ECG may be a good reason to perform a non-invasive cardiac exam, to rule out the possibility of associated underlying heart disease.  This is especially true in middle aged (or older) people, especially if they have risk factors for underlying heart disease.

Click here for a more detailed discussion of PVCs – their cause, their evaluation, and their treatment.

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