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Alternative namesPVB (premature ventricular beat); Premature contraction; Premature beats; PVC (premature ventricular contraction); Extrasystole
DefinitionEctopic heartbeat is an irregularity of the heart rate and heart rhythm involving extra or skipped heartbeats.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Ectopic heartbeats are an arrhythmia involving small variations in an otherwise normal heartbeat. In many cases, they may occur without obvious cause and be benign.
In adults, ectopic beats can occur more commonly, and underlying reversible reasons should be investigated even if it turns out that no treatment is ultimately needed.
Signs and tests
A physical examination may show an occasional irregularity, but if the ectopic beats do not occur frequently, they may not be detectable on physical exam. Blood pressure is usually normal.
Etopic beats may also be observed during:
TreatmentOften ectopic heartbeats do not require treatment. The condition is treated if symptoms are severe or if extra beats are very frequent.
An underlying cause, if discovered, may also require treatment.
Expectations (prognosis)Ectopic heartbeats are generally benign , requiring no treatment. Ocasionally, they may indicate an increased risk for other cardiac arrhythmias .
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you feel palpitations that persist, or are accompanied by chest pain or other symptoms.
PreventionModeration in caffeine , alcohol, and tobacco use may reduce the risk of ectopic heartbeats in some people. Exercise often helps persons who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Update Date: 5/9/2002Elena Sgarbossa, M.D., Department of Cardiology, Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Ctr., Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT