The heart's electrical system creates the signals that tell your heart when to beat. Electrophysiology (EP) is a specialization of medicine that focuses on the electrical behavior of the heart. Electrophysiologists are trained to perform cardiac electrophysiology studies to diagnose heart rhythm problems, known as arrhythmias, as well as radiofrequency catheter ablation procedures to eliminate them.
Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?
The Electrophysiology Section at Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital consists of the largest group of electrophysiologists in central Ohio as well as more than 100 nursing staff members dedicated to the care of patients with heart rhythm problems. The Ross Heart Hospital is home to one of the largest electrophysiology programs in the country utilizing physician experience coupled with advanced mapping and ablation technology to manage the wide spectrum of heart rhythm problems.
What is a Premature Heart Beat?
A premature heart beat (contraction) is a type of arrhythmia. It is a beat that occurs earlier than expected, briefly interrupting the normal heart rhythm.
A premature heart beat is often described as a "thump" in the chest. However, this “missed beat” sensation does not reflect the premature contraction, but rather the forceful beat that follows the pause after the premature beat. The heart fills with blood during this pause, making the next beat more forceful.
Premature beats that occur in the atria (upper chambers of the heart) are called premature atrial contractions, or PACs. Premature beats that occur in the ventricles (lower chambers) are called premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs.
What Causes Premature Beats?
In most cases, premature beats occur naturally and are not a sign of heart disease. But certain underlying heart diseases, such as cardiomyopathy or coronary heart disease, can cause premature beats.
Potential causes of benign (not dangerous to health) premature contractions may be linked to:
- Lack of sleep
- Too much exercise, caffeine or nicotine