Is Having Extra Heartbeats a Dangerous Condition?

The Short Answer from an interventional cardiologist

Is Having Extra Heartbeats a Dangerous Condition?

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 percent) that is has caused your heart pumping function to diminish. Be sure to talk to your physician if you experience heart fluttering.

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— Interventional cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD, Director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Center and section head of preventive cardiology at Cleveland Clinic

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