Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)

What causes premature ventricular contractions?

There are many causes of premature ventricular contractions, which include:

  • heart attack;
  • high blood pressure;
  • cardiomyopathy, including congestive heart failure;
  • disease of heart valves such as mitral valve prolapse;
  • hypokalemia (low blood levels of potassium), and hypomagnesemia (low blood levels of magnesium) -- hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia can occur, for example, in patients taking diuretics (water pills);
  • hypoxia (low amounts of oxygen in the blood), for example, hypoxia occurs with lung diseases such as emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • medications such as digoxin (Lanoxin), aminophylline (Phyllocontin, Truphylline), tricyclic antidepressants, and ephedrine-containing, decongestants;
  • excessive intake of alcohol;
  • excess caffeine intake;
  • stimulant drug use such as cocaine, and amphetamines;
  • myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) and cardiac contusion (heart muscle injury), and
  • premature ventricular contractions also occur in healthy individuals without heart diseases.
Reviewed on 11/13/2013