Premature Ventricular Beats
(Ventricular Premature Beats; Premature Ventricular Contractions; Ventricular Ectopic Beats)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
A premature ventricular beat (PVB) is an extra heartbeat. It starts in the lower heart chambers before a normal heartbeat. A PVB interrupts the heart’s normal rhythm. It causes a pause before the next heartbeat.
PVBs are common. In healthy people they are harmless. However, after a heart attack or heart surgery, PVBs can lead to harmful heart rhythms.
PVBs happen when normal heart signals are disrupted. It is not always clear why this happens. Certain health conditions and drugs can cause PVBs.
Risk factors for PVBs are:
In many cases, there are no symptoms. When symptoms happen, they may be:
In people with heart disease, PVBs can cause lightheadedness and fainting.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis may be based on symptoms and tests.
Tests may include:
Other tests may be done to look for causes.
Many people do not need treatment for PVBs. It depends on how severe the symptoms are. It also depends on if a person has other heart problems.
Options may be:
Some have worse symptoms or heart problems. They may need medicines to adjust the heart signals, such as:
There are no guidelines to prevent PVBs. It may help to:
American Heart Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Heart Rhythm Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Marcus GM. Evaluation and management of premature ventricular complexes. Circulation. 2020;141(17):1404-1418.
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/premature-ventricular-contractions-pvcs. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Understanding premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). Saint Luke's website. Available at: https://www.saintlukeskc.org/health-library/understanding-premature-ventricular-contractions-pvcs. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Ventricular premature beats (VPB). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/arrhythmias-and-conduction-disorders/ventricular-premature-beats-vpb. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/13/2021
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