Q.: My physician says I have a few extra heartbeats – should I be worried?
A.: The medical name for this condition is premature ventricular contractions (PVC) or premature atrial contractions (PAC). This is a cardiac rhythm in which a normal beat is followed by a premature beat either from the top chamber of the heart or the lower chamber of the heart. The condition is benign if you are otherwise healthy.
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Some women experience extra heartbeats when they go through hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause. Women with this condition will report a skipping, flip-flopping or fluttering in the chest. It’s confusing because the sensation comes on when they’re not physically active.
Some things that make the condition worse are caffeine, dehydration, alcohol — because it makes you dehydrated — and over-the-counter decongestants.
We do not treat this condition unless you are very symptomatic or if you have so many extra beats (more than 10%) that is has caused your heart pumping function to diminish. Be sure to talk to your physician if you experience heart fluttering.
— Interventional cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD, Director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Center and section head of preventive cardiology at Cleveland Clinic