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PVCs On ECGs: What They Look Like And What They Mean

If you’ve ever had a heart monitor or an ECG, you may have seen something called PVCs. But what are they? What do they mean? And what does a PVC look like on an ECG? In this article, we will answer all of those questions!

PVCs, premature ventricular contractions, are extra heartbeats before the regular beat. They generally originate from areas of the ventricles in the lower part of the heart. On ECG tracing, PVCs appear as a vast complex wave with a narrow QRS complex (the portion of the heartbeat displayed). Its wider shape can distinguish this compared to other QRS complexes on the trace. It also usually appears earlier than expected for an average heart rate.

PVCs can sometimes cause feelings such as a skipped beat or fluttering in your chest, but they don’t always have any symptoms. Suppose you experience these irregular beats more frequently or with more intensity than usual. In that case, it’s best to speak with your doctor.

When detected on ECG tracing, PVCs may be circled in red and labeled “PVC” or “VPC” (ventricular premature contractions). They can also appear as “aberrantly conducted beats” or what looks like a standard QRS complex that occurs earlier than expected. In some cases, the PVC may even cause what is known as a compensatory pause — a longer interval between heartbeats — which can follow the extra beat. This will show up on an ECG as two distinctly different heart intervals back-to-back.

We hope this information has been helpful to you.