Anxiety can cause PVCs (premature ventricular contractions), especially if you have anxiety over PVCs.
But just how does this happen; what is the mechanism?
“Anxiety causes increased stimulation of beta receptors on the heart, which can cause increased heart rate and cause other parts of the ventricle to have electrical impulse formation (PVCs) due to increased beta agonism,” explains Dr. Sameer Sayeed, a cardiologist at ColumbiaDoctors of Somers, NY.
Beta receptors are located on the cells of the heart. They are part of the physiological response that occurs when a person suffers from anxiety or stress.
Beta receptors are part of the sympathetic nervous system; this is the system that causes changes in the body to prepare it for a fight or flight (e.g., heightened senses, increased respiration, rapid heart rate).
So amid these physiological changes, the ventricles of the heart may end up not quite pumping in perfect rhythm.
“Beta agonisms” simply means that the beta cells are stimulated or activated.
You can get PVCs simply by worrying about them.
Just like sometimes muscles will begin twitching when a person with health anxiety begins fretting about twitching muscles, one’s heartbeat will start feeling jumpy or like there’s an extra or skipped beat — simply due to the anxiety that comes with worrying about this.
For the typical person, the biggest problem that premature ventricular contractions present is the way they feel.
Nobody likes to feel a fluttery or erratic type of beating in their chest. This is called cardiac awareness. And it is not easily ignored.
However, PVCs are rarely a significant issue or something that a cardiologist will worry about.
What a cardiologist is more concerned with is any other symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, undue fatigue, dizziness or fainting spells.
Dr. Sayeed performs echocardiograms and stress tests at the Midtown Manhattan and Westchester offices at Columbia Doctors. He is also trained in cardiac CT imaging.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.