Premature Ventricular Contractions, PVCs
Premature Atrial Contractions, PACs
The heart is an electrical pump. The SA
(sinoatrial node), also known as the heart’s
natural pacemaker, controls the heart rate;
The SA node fires and the atria contract.
The AV (atrioventricular) node then collects
this impulse and sends it to the lower
chambers of the heart to contract.
In premature ventricular contractions (PVC),
there is a place of electricity in the lower
chambers of the heart (ventricles). This
place causes an early heartbeat before the
SA node would normally send a signal.
In premature atrial contractions (PAC), there
is a spot of electricity in the upper chambers
of the heart (atria). This spot causes an early
heartbeat before the SA node would
normally send a signal.
Signs and Symptoms
Older children and adults will describe that
their hearts feel like they skip or miss a beat.
They may feel forceful heartbeats. Some
may not feel these extra beats.
Some people find that stress, caffeine,
alcohol, or certain medicines increase how
often the extra heartbeats occur.
A member of the health care team will do a
complete exam and a health history.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) will be done to
look at the heart’s electrical activity. A
Holter monitor may be used to find out how
often these extra beats occur. The Holter is
worn for 24 or 48 hours. It records every
heartbeat during that time. An event
monitor may be done to find out what the
heart rhythm is when there are symptoms.
An event monitor is worn for 30 days. A
button is pushed when you feel an abnormal
Sometimes, an exercise test is needed to find
out if the extra heartbeats occur more or less
often during exercise.
Often no treatment is needed. If the extra
heart beats do not cause any distress and do
not happen often, then no treatment is
needed. Some people are bothered by the
feeling of extra heartbeats. Certain
medicines can then be used. For others, if
the extra heartbeats occur often or occur
more often during exercise, further testing
and treatment may be needed.
Who Do I Call With Questions?
The doctor or nurse or our clinic staff can
answer any questions.
Pediatric Cardiology (608) 263-6420
Adult Congenital Heart Disease
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospital
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6860