Premature Contractions - PACs and PVCs

Have you ever felt as though your heart “skipped a beat”? Most people experience this feeling at one time or another.

In reality, your heart may not be skipping a beat. Instead, you may have had a premature contraction.

Occasional premature contractions are normal, and are common in children and teenagers. Usually, no cause can be found, and many go away on their own.

Types of premature contractions

A premature contraction can originate in your heart’s upper (atria) or lower (ventricles) chambers. With this “extra” beat, a pause usually causes your next normal heartbeat to be more forceful.

Premature beats that start in your heart’s upper chambers are premature atrial contractions, or PACs. Those that start in the lower chambers are premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs.


Watch an animation of a normal heartbeat.

Testing and treatment

Infrequently, premature contractions can be caused by disease or injury to the heart. If your health care professional suspects that possibility, he or she may suggest tests to monitor your heart function.

Your health care professional can recommend a treatment plan once the cause of the premature contractions is identified.

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