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What CAUSES pvcs?
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What CAUSES pvcs?

Hey Folks,
       Has anyone participated in a research study or found any theories on causation of pvc's (besides magnesium/potatsium/iron deficiencies or acid reflux)?  If we could figure out the CAUSE it would save us all a lot of problems!  Just wondering. . .  
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Avatar_f_tn
I wish we could find out the cause - because then they could come up with the cure! LOL  I know smoking, anxiety, alcholol, excitement can all cause them to become worse.  I just want them to go away!!!!  I can't remember a day in the last 20 years that I did not have at least one or two, and most days I have many more.  I want to be one of those people that don't FEEL them!
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Avatar_n_tn
Yup, until we can track down a CAUSE the solution will be difficult to determine.  Anyone else out there heard of any research projects or studies going on?  Thanks!
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Avatar_n_tn
Research is done at the cellular level; it is not done at the vitamins, food, etc level.  That approach has been exhausted, with no reliable scientific results.  The medications available today is the result of the research that has been done.  My EP, back in Nov 2007, told me that there's nothing really new in medications on the horizon, but ablation techniques are improving every year.

Also, I think when we use the term 'cause', we really mean trigger.  Alcohol may trigger an irregular beat by changing the chemical structure of the cells in the heart.  Thus it is the chemicals that really cause the extra beats.  All these drugs change the way cells emit and take in chemicals (potassium, etc).  In this way it is intented that all the cells become synchronized--thus no irregular beats.

Thus the real cause is that cells develop the propensity for irregularity, and no one knows why this happens.
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Avatar_n_tn
I guess PVC's are caused by changes in the sinus node and the nerves that transmit the electrical signals throughout the heart. I suppose the changes are caused by pathogens or chemicals/drugs, age, and genetic predisposition.

I don't suppose removing the cause helps in most cases, because the nerve damage and dysfunction is mostly permanent.

Some day, I think PVC's will be tracked down to 1 or 2 major causes, and people can be educated to avoid them. A vaccine can possibly be developed for any viral causes of nerve degradation. Genetic factors will be tough to do anything about.
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221122_tn?1323014865
I agree with Mariop on this one.  No one knows why one person's heart cells become irritable, especially since EVERYONE has PVCs at one time or another.  What I want to know is WHY do we feel them so much more than others and WHY can't they be a feeling that you get used to.  I mean, I get used to them, to a point when they're particularly bad, but after a period of rest, the feel terrible when they start.  This has been going on for 31 years.
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255722_tn?1333378910
The following excerpt was taken from an article that was copied from this web address:
http://www.healthandage.com/Home/gid2=2089

This has to be one of THE BEST descriptions of the causes of arrhythmia I have EVER SEEN.  For all of you who are trying to understand what is going on in there, here it is!!!

Kudos to the author!!!!!




Your Heart's Clock Regulates Its Rhythm - Part XIV

Ed G. Lakatta, MD
December 6, 2002 (Reviewed: December 16, 2004)


The Heart's Clock and Electrical Pathways

To help understand skipped beats or arrhythmias let's begin by considering where a normal heartbeat originates and how it travels through the heart.

Your heart has an internal clock that's called a "pacemaker", which initiates an electrical discharge that transmits to every part of the heart muscle along a specific path of conduction fibers. This electricity travels at varying, but controlled speeds. When the heart's pacemaker and conduction system are working correctly there is a regularly-occurring and precise spread of electricity across your heart that causes a heartbeat. Follow Figure 1 as we look at this pathway.



The heart has four chambers, two on the top, called atria (2), and two on the bottom, called ventricles (5). The stimulus for a heartbeat starts in the wall of the right atrium where the heart's pacemaker, the sinoatrial, or SA node (1), is located.

The pacemaker generates an electrical current, and this wave of electricity spreads through the right and left atria (2). In response the muscles of the atria contract and force blood from these upper chambers into the lower ones, the ventricles.

As the moving current reaches a specific area between the atria and the ventricles, called the atrioventricular, or AV node (3), it is slowed down slightly. The AV node acts as a delay switch, giving the atria time to squeeze down and contract completely so that the ventricles can fill to capacity with blood before they in turn receive the moving electrical current.

Next, the current travels down a group of fibers that divides, one bundle going into the right ventricle (5) and the other going into the left ventricle (5). This group of fibers is called the bundle of His (4), pronounced, "hiss".

When the impulse reaches the ventricles it spreads across the ventricular muscle cells and initiates the orderly contraction of these lower chambers. By this action blood is ejected from the heart.

In summary, an electrical impulse initiates in the top part of your heart, usually the SA node, producing a spread of electricity across your heart and exciting the heart muscle's cells as it travels. This ultimately results in the contraction of the lower chambers, the ventricles, from which blood is pumped throughout your body.

The Pacemaker Can Lose Control!

The spread of electricity throughout the heart muscle is possible because all heart muscle cells, not just pacemaker cells, are excitable. Usually, the heart muscle cells keep time more slowly than normal pacemaker cells. This allows the pacemaker cells within the SA node to be in control of generating and pacing the heartbeat. But, if a particular group of cells in areas remote from the SA node become extra- or hyper-excitable they can take over as the pacemaker for one or several beats, or for a longer term.

You might think of the heart's cells as a schoolyard full of young boys playing soccer. Some are inherently quick and fast and are always on top of the game, while others usually play a little slower. Now let's say that to gain the attention of a pretty cheerleader some of the slower players begin showing off, speed up and start scoring. Suddenly, they are in control of the game. Likewise, cardiac fibers anywhere in the heart muscle can become hyper-excitable. This enables them to initiate a heartbeat and overtake the normal pacemaker (the SA node), producing an arrhythmia.

Common causes of such hyper-excitability of heart muscle cells include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, stress (physical and emotional), thyroid disorders, and certain medications. Serious arrhythmias, however, are most often caused by underlying heart disease, commonly coronary heart disease, heart valve problems, and heart failure. (See Article #11 "The Inner Layer Of Your Blood Vessels Is A Battlefield", and Article #4 "Your Older Heart May Cause You To Feel Short Of Breath.")

Categorizing Arrhythmias: When and Where Does the Takeover of SA Node Pacemaking Occur?

Medical science categorizes arrhythmias in several different ways. One way is by the timing and rate of the initiating electrical discharge and the other by its location.

An initiating electrical impulse that occurs too early is called premature because it causes an early heartbeat or premature contraction to occur. A beat that occurs too late, or fails to occur, is often referred to as a blocked beat. If the rate at which initiating electrical impulses occurs is too fast it produces tachycardia (fast heart rate). If initiating electrical impulses occurs too slowly it causes bradycardia (slow heart rate).

Heart rhythms arising from excited cells outside of the SA node, in either the atria or ventricles, are referred to as ectopic. For example, premature atrial beats or contractions (PAC's), and atrial tachycardia originate in the atria. Premature ventricular beats or contractions (PVC's), and ventricular tachycardia originate in the ventricles. Premature beats can be from one focus (unifocal) or multifocal, depending on whether they always arise from the same location or from more than one location. Premature beats may be linked together, called couplets. Three in a row are called short runs of tachycardia. We all probably experience premature beats at some time or another, but they tend occur more often in persons diagnosed with heart disease, and some tend to be more serious than others.

You are almost an expert on arrhythmias at this point! You are familiar with the normal electrical pathway (called the depolarization pathway) shown in Figure 1, and you know that arrhythmias are named by when and where they originate in the heart. Imagine, that during your routine stress test your cardiologist says, "Your EKG looks great, just a couple of extra beats." You respond by asking, "Were they atrial or ventricular in origin, single beats or couplets, unifocal or multifocal, doc?"

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255722_tn?1333378910
So...it appears as though the "cause" is well known.  The triggers are multiple and individual in nature, and the "cure" is a toughy.  How do you "shut off" the errant cells and not kill the heart tissue???  Those cells are still required for your heart to work at all, and "shutting" them down can easily cause your entire heart muscle to "shut down."  

It is an awful catch 22 for us all to be stuck in, but alas, I would prefer my heart to beat, albeit imperfectly, as opposed to it NOT beating :-(.

Hope this information is in some way helpful to you.

April
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks so much for posting the article from Health and Age.com.  It is the best I have read in trying to understand this frustrating situation that we all are experiencing.  It sure makes sence !  Everytime I read more  info on this forum, it does more good than any medication possibly could at this time.  Hopefully something will come along in the near future and give relief from those of us that contend with these symptoms day in and day out.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you, sincerely for your article.  It was very helpful!  Good stuff. . . Val
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376186_tn?1219283105
I thank you as well for the info!! I have been doing my homework for years and feel that there is so much to learn about all of this and I try to stay well informed. I just wish I could discover what my 'triggers' are so that I could find a way to decrease the PVC's that I get daily. Maybe one of these days!!!
Thanks again...there are so many nice people here and I appreciate all of the info and help. It's nice to know that I am not alone even tho I hate for anyone to experience these heart issues. It robs you life or can if you are not diligent.
~B
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255722_tn?1333378910
You know what I think?  I think that for some of us, over a period of time, our "overacheiver" cells start to just "get used to" doing the "wrong" thing.  I think that sometimes the triggers that may have helped set off the domino effect are long behind us, and it doesn't really take ANYTHING to set the PVC's off again.  And, for that same reason, I think sometimes the PVC's lie dormant and trick us into thinking that they've gone away for good...only to pop back into our lives with a vengeance with a different trigger.

I shouldn't drink caffeine, and too rigorous of an exercise routine can set me off...especially if I don't increase my sleep hours with the increase of exercise.  But...when the PVC's have left me alone for awhile, I tend to "forget" these things and start drinking a cup of coffee here and there...and sometimes an ACTUAL soda.  And I might not go to bed "on time." Next thing you know my overacheivers start acting up and it can take MONTHS for them to calm down again...and during that time I pray every day that they will actually go away.  One of these days they may not.  But I don't think that the triggers are necessary all the time.  Just to set them off in the first place and then the darned cells just keep firing and driving us nuts!!!!

**SIGH**
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Avatar_m_tn
I had horrible pacs for over a year and then finally figured out what was causing them. I had been drinking Lipton pure leaf iced tea almost daily. As soon as I stopped drinking tea the pacs totally stopped!
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