A common type of heart arrhythmia in which one part of the ventricle contracts early due to a stray electrical signal that interferes with the normal heart beat. This is normally felt by a fluttering in the chest. In my case, I get a fish flop feeling and then a bit of a pause before the next beat. This is easily detected using an EKG, normally the EKG is made up of 6 distinct phases which represent the electrical signal for each heart beat. It goes something like this:
  • P wave - the first small spike in the beat
  • Q wave - the beginning of the large spike in the beat
  • R wave - the top and down slope of the big spike
  • S wave - the downward spike after the big spike
  • T wave - a small spike after a period of relative calm
This is a lot easier to explain with images, but hey...

With a PVC, the EKG shows no P wave at all, and launches into the QRS cycle. The QRS cycle also appears abnormal because of the interrupting electrical signal. Typically this is followed by no real S wave, and then a period of calm. Because the QRS cycle happened early due to the offending electrical signal, this calm period is really the normal time before the next P wave occurs.

This is one of the most common heart ahrrythmias, something like over 60% of people will experience it in their life. In general, it is nothing to worry about if it does not repeat. However, if you have a history of heart disease in your family or if you have repeated missed beats, dizziness, anxiety, chest pain, or shortness of breath, you should get it checked out. Also if it begins to occur more than 6 times a minute, you should get checked out ASAP as at this frequency it can cause problems with the normal heart beats and lead to more serious ahrrythmias.

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