What are premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) of the heart? How are these treated?
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are contractions of the heart muscle that originate in the ventricles. They may or may not be treated, depending on the patient's condition.
Normally, the stimulus for the heartbeat is an impulse originating in the sinoatrial (SA) node. But sometimes, a section of ventricular tissue get irritated and start producing their own impulse. When it comes prior to the impulse coming from the SA node, it travels back up the pathway toward the atria.
PVCs can take different forms on an electrocardiogram, depending on where in the heart cycle they occur. But one thing is certain - they are easy to spot, because they look VERY different than what surrounds them.
They can come on their own, in pairs or groups. They may occur regularly or irregularly.
Often, they are benign - no treatment being recommended. But if they do keep occurring, or the patient becomes symptomatic beyond the feeling of the "skipped" beat, then use the ACLS algorithm to treat in the appropriate manner PROVIDED THAT (1) you are properly trained and certified to do so, and (2) it aligns with the protocols under which you operate.