When you have PVCs, does your heart literally skip a beat, or does it only seem this way?

That “skipped” beat has been known to frighten many people, making them think that a heart attack is imminent or will occur in the near future.

So to find out what’s really going on with premature ventricular contractions, I asked cardiologist Dr. Pam Marcovitz, MD, medical director of the Ministrelli Women’s Heart Center, at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Her explanation applies to both women and men:

“Because the extra heartbeat happens earlier than expected, the heart’s normal beat senses the extra beat and pauses a few milliseconds before delivering its next beat,” explains Dr. Marcovitz.

“This pause is followed by a stronger heartbeat, and may be sensed as a skipped beat, a thump or a pounding sensation in the chest. Your doctor refers to this as a palpitation.”

Even a pause of just a few milliseconds can be perceived by the individual experiencing a premature ventricular contraction.

When you then feel that “thump!” that’s the stronger heartbeat, to compensate for that pause.

So with PVCs, there is no skipped heartbeat, only a very slightly delayed heartbeat. Premature ventricular contractions do not indicate an increased risk of a heart attack.

To lower your risk of heart attack, there are many things you can do, including:

Don’t let sodium (salt) consumption exceed 1,500 mg daily.

Drastically reduce consumption of processed foods.

Eliminate as much as possible processed carbohydrates.

Eat at least 25 g of fiber a day.

Sleep seven to eight hours a day.

Eat red grapes, berries, dates, almonds, walnuts, seeds, wild game and wild caught fish.

If you eat meat, limit it to grass-fed or wild game only.

Take the following supplements: green tea extract, turmeric and garlic.

Do both interval cardio training and strength training.

PVCs or the sensation of a skipped heartbeat are not a risk factor for heart disease. So instead of stressing about that, pay more attention to how many hours a day that you spend in a chair. Prolonged sitting is linked to a myriad of health ailments including cardiac related.