Sunday, January 15, 2006

premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)

Premature ventricular contractions are ventricular ectopic (abnormal) beats that occur before depolarization (heart contraction) of the ventricles (two largest cavities of the heart) when an atrial impulse is due. Although premature ventricular contractions are seen in healthy people, the incidence and frequency of occurrence are higher for the elderly and those with heart disease. Premature ventricular contractions are associated with stress, acidosis (increase of hydrogen, causing an abnormal state of reduced alkalinity in the body), ventricular enlargement, myocardial infarction, digitalis toxicity, and hypoxemia (lack of oxygen in blood).
Symptoms of premature ventricular contractions include palpitations, anxiety, fatigue, and confusion.
Treatment for premature ventricular contractions are usually necessary if there are more than 5 PVCs per minute or if the PVCs are chained together.
Pharmacologic suppression of premature ventricular contractions is most often accomplished with lidocaine, quinidine, disopyramide, or procainamide.
See also ARRHYTHMIAS, CARDIAC.
Phipps, W. J., et al. Medical Surgical Nursing. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983.
Scherer, J. C. Introductory Medical-Surgical Nursing. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1982.

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