Understanding Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)

PVCs are one of the most common irregular heart rhythms. While they may oftentimes be benign, PVCs may pose a more serious risk for people with existing heart conditions. Keep reading to learn more.

Have you ever felt like your heart skipped a beat or fluttered? You may have experienced an irregular heart rhythm called Premature Ventricular Contractions, or PVCs. PVCs are extra heartbeats that originate in the bottom chambers of your heart, usually beating sooner than the next expected regular heartbeat.1 Sometimes PVCs may be classified or referred to as heart palpitations.

What triggers PVCs?

PVCs are very common. In fact, Cleveland Clinic estimates that up to 75% of people experience PVCs at some point in their life. While PVCs are more likely to occur in older adults with heart disease, they can happen to anyone and are often triggered by everyday occurrences.2 Common triggers for PVCs include:

  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant, which can cause increased heart rate and palpitations like PVCs.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol, especially overconsumption, can put you at a higher risk for experiencing irregular heart rhythms.
  • Certain medications: Cough and cold medicine (decongestants and antihistamines) may trigger PVCs.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety and stress may increase the level of adrenaline in your body, which can lead to heart palpitations or PVCs.
  • Hypertension: People with hypertension, or high blood pressure, are more likely to experience irregular heart rhythms like PVCs.

Should you be concerned?

According to Cleveland Clinic, PVCs are not always a problem, but if they continue for months or years it could lead you to develop cardiomyopathy, a more serious heart condition that affects how efficiently your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body.1 Your doctor is your best resource. If you think you may have experienced PVCs, or any type of irregular heart rhythm, contact your doctor.

How to Detect PVCs

PVCs often happen quickly and intermittently. They can be hard to catch on an in-hospital EKG machine if you’re not experiencing them in the moment. But a KardiaMobile personal EKG allows you to record an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) from home, the office, the car, even the beach—so you can capture your heart rhythm the moment you feel a symptom. Here’s what a PVC looks like on a Kardia rhythm strip:

With a KardiaCare membership, you can detect PVCs from anywhere in seconds. Save your EKGs right on your phone so you can send it to your doctor remotely, or share it with them at your next appointment.

It’s never a bad idea to pay closer attention to your heart health. If you think you may be experiencing PVCs, or any type of irregular heart rhythm, contact your doctor and start tracking your heart health with Kardia.

1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17381-premature-ventricular-contractions

2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premature-ventricular-contractions/symptoms-causes/syc-20376757#:~:text=Certain%20medications%2C%20including%20decongestants%20and,due%20to%20exercise%20or%20anxiety