I was quite surprised to run across this study linking premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) to the development of future congestive heart failure.
After all, this site here has a load of articles about PVCs—for which I interviewed cardiologists, and the general consensus is that PVCs are nothing to get worked up about.
Nevertheless, it’s fair to summarize the results of this study, which appears in the July 14, 2015 Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study spans over 10 years and 1,139 subjects.
“We cannot exclude the possibility that PVCs are some marker of future heart failure,” says Gregory Marcus, MD, senior author of the study.
Dr. Marcus is not able to state if PVCs actually cause congestive heart failure, only that they are a marker for it’s future arisal.
The study participants did not have a history of CHF, and ultrasounds revealed a normal left ventricle as well.
Here is why you should not panic:
• The relationship of the frequency of PVCs, CHF incidents and death are not known for the general population.
• Mayoclinic.com does not specifically name premature ventricular contractions as a causative agent or risk factor.
What is congestive heart failure?
It’s when the heart doesn’t pump an adequate amount of blood per beat; the “squeeze” is weak.
Or, it pumps adequately, but the amount of blood that’s waiting in the chamber to be pumped out isn’t adequate.
Both types result in an insufficient amount of blood throughout the body.
Risk factors high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, thyroid disorders, faulty heart valves and heart disease. However, half of cases have no known cause.
With the participants of this study, decline in left ventricular ejection fraction (systolic heart failure) was associated with a higher incidence of PVCs.
Also linked to the higher rate of PVCs was increased incidents of CHF and greater mortality.
“Future studies will need to delve into identifying the exact types of patients,” says Dr. Marcus, “and likely the particular types of PVCs most strongly associated with subsequent heart failure.”