PVCs

PVCs can be a source of fright and confusion for medical students first learning to read EKGs. They have a characteristic appearance:

lifeinthefastlane.com
lifeinthefastlane.com

They may also be a source of fright for patients. Some patients are asymptomatic, but others report feeling “thumps” or palpitations that can make them think they’re having a heart attack. Others can get lightheaded. If you happen to take blood pressure during PVC, it may seem absurdly low, like 80/50, when in actuality, it is higher.

Do you treat PVCs? If they’re asymptomatic and have no other arrhythmia, the answer is no!

But if they’re having symptoms, there are some things you can offer. The first recommendation is to lay off the caffeine. Coffee can aggravate PVCs because of its pro-adrenergic effects. Stress can also predispose someone to PVCs, but exercise should not. Beta-blockers are the mainstay of medical therapy.

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