Ventricular premature beats (VPBs) are extra heartbeats, which interrupt the regular rhythm of the heart, and are one type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
VPBs may cause no symptoms at all, or may be felt as a skipped beat, or like the heart is beating hard, beating fast, or abnormally, a symptom, which we call “palpitations”. Some people with VBPBs, report feeling dizzy, or lightheaded, or having a pounding feeling in the neck. VPBs may be more noticeable when one lies quietly in bed at night or lie on your left side.
Many people cannot feel their VPBs. A doctor or nurse might find VPBs when he or she listens to your heart during an exam. Or doctors might find VPBs if they do a heart test called an electrocardiogram, also called an ECG.
VPBs are common. They can happen in healthy people. They can also happen in people who have different types of heart disease. For example, VPBs are very common after a heart attack.
Your specialist may order tests to investigate VPBs, including a Holter Monitor, and an echocardiogram.
Treatment of VPBs depends on what is causing the VPBs and whether they cause symptoms. If you do not have symptoms, you might not need any treatment. Most people with normal heart structure and mild or no symptoms do not require any treatment for VPBs, as long as other heart problems have been excluded. If the VPBs are caused by another heart condition, doctors will treat that condition.
In those who need treatment, options will include; Medicines (most common) to control the speed or rhythm of your heartbeat, or, less frequently, a procedure called “ablation” – During this procedure, the doctor uses heat (called “radiofrequency ablation”) or cold (called “cryoablation”) to treat the small part of the heart that is sending the abnormal electrical signals.