Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)

Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in one of your heart's two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a flip-flop or skipped beat in your chest. Premature ventricular contractions are very common — they occur in most people at some point.

Premature ventricular contractions are also called:

  • Premature ventricular complexes
  • PVCs
  • Ventricular premature beats
  • Extrasystoles

If you have occasional premature ventricular contractions, but you're an otherwise healthy person, there's generally no reason for concern, and no treatment is needed. If you have frequent premature ventricular contractions or underlying heart disease, you may need treatment to help you feel better and treat underlying heart problems.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Premature ventricular contractions often cause no symptoms. But you may feel an odd sensation in your chest, such as:

  • Flip-flops
  • Fluttering
  • Pounding or jumping
  • Skipped beats or missed beats
  • Increased awareness of your heartbeat

When to see a doctor

If you feel flip-flops, a sensation of skipped heartbeats or odd feelings in your chest, talk to your doctor. You'll want to identify the source of these symptoms. Premature ventricular contractions may be the problem, but other conditions also may be to blame, including other rhythm problems, serious heart problems, anxiety, anemia or infections.

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