Ectopic heartbeat

PVB (premature ventricular beat); Premature beats; PVC (premature ventricular complex/contraction); Extrasystole; Premature supraventricular contractions; PAC; Premature atrial contraction; Abnormal heartbeat

Ectopic heartbeats are small changes in a heartbeat that is otherwise normal. These changes lead to extra or skipped heartbeats. Often there is not a clear cause for these changes. They are mostly harmless.

The 2 most common types of ectopic heartbeats are:

  • Premature ventricular contractions (PVC)
  • Premature atrial contractions (PAC)
Heart, section through the middle

The interior of the heart is composed of valves, chambers, and associated vessels.

Heart, front view

The external structures of the heart include the ventricles, atria, arteries and veins. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins carry blood into the heart. The vessels colored blue indicate the transport of blood with relatively low content of oxygen and high content of carbon dioxide. The vessels colored red indicate the transport of blood with relatively high content of oxygen and low content of carbon dioxide.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. This includes the rate and regularity of beats as well as the size and position of the chambers, any damage to the heart, and effects of drugs or devices to regulate the heart.

Causes

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

Treatment

Outlook (Prognosis)

When to Contact a Medical Professional