Avatar universal

Can PVCs cause sudden death?

Hello I'm a 20 year old female with great blood pressure , healthy weight, don't smoke, drink, or do drugs. I do have OCD and I also have Panic disorder, but I am doing a lot better. What I've come here to ask about is about PVCs. I have recently had a holter report which revealed that I had PVCs. I only had 13 on my holter but I can get up to 200 and some days I don't even have any at all. I've done a whole lot of research lately trying to figure these things out, but there's one thing I couldn't really find a solid answer on. I'm wondering if PVCs , in a structurally normal heart, could cause sudden cardiac death. I understand that PVCs are a electrical problem.... Could my heart just stop? This has been really bothering lately... I end up getting too scared to sleep because this question has been driving me crazy. Hopefully someone can please give me a straight forward answer!
3 Responses
12492606 tn?1459874033
Everybody has PVCs.  You heart beats around 100,000 times a day.  There is no correlation between PVCs and heart failure until PVCs burden is way higher than 1% and whether there are physical symptoms.
995271 tn?1463924259
A PVC isn't as simple as an "electrical problem".  I'll try to explain...keep in mind that this is for a healthy heart.

The spark plug, so to speak, for the heart to beat initiates towards the top of the heart, in the atrium.  This propagates down and eventually hits the AV node which then makes the very important ventricles contract (beat).

If the atrium doesn't contract well, it's not that big of a deal.  People live with chronic atrial fib (meaning it's not even contracting, it's not helping anymore) for many years.  

The ventricles are so important to blood flow that you won't remain upright if they don't contract for about longer than 5 seconds.  

So what happens if the spark plug doesn't work?  That can easily happen.  It might not even make it to the AV node for some reason.  So why aren't people passing out and dying all over the place?

Nature built in a backup.  There are cells in the ventricles that will fire on their own at about a 5-6 second interval.  In cardiac cells, the characteristic that makes them contract on their own at set intervals is called Automaticity (looks like Automatic, it is).  

  It's like a backup system.    The only reason the spark plug is the dominant pacer is because it fires at a faster interval.

Very cool huh?  you have a backup!!

But what happens if there are twitchy cells in the ventricle that fire faster than 5-+ second internal?  It's sort of like they have an enhanced automatic contraction to them right?  Well that's what this is called, Enhanced Automaticity and it is what causes a PVC.    When it happens and the spark plug is still going correctly, the contraction is uncoordinated for a bit which gives you the sensations you feel.

Then we can get into the study of what causes EA, I could write a book.

Anyways, hopefully you understanding this better will settle your curiosity.  Seriously, don't overthink it and relax.  A PVC isn't an electrical problem, it's cells that are hyper for some reason.  There are many reasons that can cause them to be hyper.

Avatar universal
Thank you so much for clearing that up. I've been searching high and low for a solid answer!!!
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Heart Rhythm Community

Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1807132 tn?1318743597
Chicago, IL
1423357 tn?1511085442
Central, MA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
Salt in food can hurt your heart.
Get answers to your top questions about this common — but scary — symptom
How to know when chest pain may be a sign of something else
For people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly challenging.
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.