Is Your Heart Skipping a Beat? Find Out More from a Consultant Cardiologist
When looking at ectopic heartbeats, one of the first things to do is learn a little more about premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) so that you can recognise the differences between this condition and others which are similar. In order to develop a better understanding of this, it’s important to get to grips with the normal structure of the heart’s chambers and their function. The heart has four chambers in total with the atria at the top and the ventricles at the bottom. In the atria, there is a part of the heart which acts as a pacemaker, controlling the normal beat and rhythm of the heart. The time between each heartbeat is roughly the same in normal cases.
In the case of PVCs, the ‘premature’ part of the name describes how additional or early heartbeats can start from a different place in the heart to its natural pacemaker. If the extra beat starts from the ventricles before the echo of the last has faded, this is called a PVC, causing you to feel palpitations or like you’ve skipped a beat. This is similar to PACs (premature atrial complexes) which is when the extra beat starts from the atria.
Unfortunately, the lower down in the heart the source of the premature complexes are, the less likely it is to cause a meaningful contraction of the heart. Therefore, in the case of PVCs which start from the ventricles, it’s even less likely to be effective, which is why it can often feel like a missed beat. This is important because each time it happens, it reduces the blood supply being pumped around the body from the heart.
Premature Ventricular Complexes – Should You Be Worried?
- While it can be frightening to experience premature ventricular complexes, if your heart is structurally strong, it will still pump blood around the body, even if it’s through less meaningful contractions.
- If you think you’re suffering from premature ventricular complexes, a doctor can refer you for monitoring and tests to determine what’s happening.
- If you have too many premature ventricular complexes in a short space of time, and your heart is weak, you may run the risk of having a ventricular fibrillation. Therefore, it’s important to seek a medical diagnosis and treatment plan which may involve taking medication.
- While medication is an option for those with more serious cases of PVCs, if you’re suffering from palpitations, there are some great ways you can help treat the issue naturally too. This is especially helpful if your doctor has told you the palpitations are harmless, yet you’ve been left with symptoms to cope with on your own.
- For those experiencing extra beats such as in the case of premature ventricular complexes, this could be due to lowered absorption of magnesium and eating processed food will not help with this. There’s no easy way to measure total magnesium levels in the blood, so you could try taking supplements to see if this helps.
- There are also some key E numbers to try cutting down on in your diet, including E220-228, E280-283, MSG (E621), E627, E631 and E635. Aspartame, bread and dairy products are also foods you should consider reducing your intake of.
- If suffering from premature ventricular complexes, drinks to avoid or consume less of include carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcohol.
- Those with premature ventricular complexes should also consider the quality of their sleep. Sleep apnoea, a lack of sleep or disturbances in your sleep can cause an increase in cortisol levels which may cause a depletion in your magnesium supplies.
- Exercise (even if it’s some gentle activities if you’re experiencing premature ventricular complexes at night), is a great way to reduce your palpitations. However, this is mainly a suggestion for those who have been told by a doctor there’s nothing to worry about with regards to their PVCs.
- Something else which could make your premature ventricular complexes worse is stress and anxiety, so take a serious look at ways you can reduce these feelings.
Receiving a Diagnostic ECG
The best place to start if experiencing frequent ectopic episodes or you’re worried about anything relating to your heart is to speak to your doctor. One of the first tests to start with is an ECG (electrocardiogram) at the time of your palpitations. This will check your heart’s rhythm and its electrical activity using sensors attached to the skin. In the case of suspected PVCs, this may involve monitoring the heart for 24 hours, and you can press a button whenever you feel palpitations. A doctor will then be able to analyse the results to see what’s happening when you’re experiencing the feeling that your heart has skipped a beat.
Speak to a Consultant Cardiologist
If you’d like to talk through any heart symptoms you’re experiencing, Dr Sanjay Gupta can help. As a consultant cardiologist with years of experience in the field, he has knowledge about a range of conditions which sometimes aren’t understood in depth by some medical professionals. He offers a wide range of methods for booking a consultation as he’s based in York in the UK. You can schedule in-person, telephone and even webcam appointments to speak to him.
He’s happy to talk through what you’ve been experiencing, whatever the stage of diagnosis you’re at. You may be worried about some of the symptoms you’re coping with or have just been diagnosed with PVCs. Dr Gupta often speaks to individuals who have already had a diagnosis but have been told there’s no need for further action. While it’s always positive to have been told your symptoms aren’t a sign of anything more serious, for those living with the condition, it can affect their day to day life. That’s why Dr Gupta offers advice and suggestions for the best ways to manage your health.
Book a Consultation Now
Have you been searching for more information and advice about premature ventricular complexes? Don’t suffer in silence as there are medical professionals who understand the condition. Get in touch and book a consultation with Dr Gupta now.