Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) or common extra heartbeats may be a modifiable risk factor for congestive heart failure (CHF) and death, reports a recent study.
Researchers at University of California, San Francisco conducted the study based on more than a decade of research of 1,139 participants from the national Cardiovascular Health Study.
PVCs are extra, abnormal heartbeats that occur in the ventricles. They disrupt the heart's regular rhythm but usually are no reason for concern or require treatment.
CHF currently affects more than 5 million Americans, and its prevalence is expected to increase by 25 percent in the next 15 years. Risk factors include obesity, diabetes and hypertension, but up 50 percent of cases have no known cause.
Earlier studies of patients presenting for catheter ablation suggest that PVCs are a modifiable risk factor for CHF. However, the relationship of PVC frequency, CHF incidents and mortality in the general population is unknown.
A higher frequency of premature ventricular contractions was associated with decline in ejaculation from the left ventricle, increased CHF incidents and greater mortality.
PVCs can be prevented through medical or ablation therapy, this study indicates they may be a modifiable risk factor for congestive heart failure and death.
"Future studies will need to delve into identifying the exact types of patients, and likely the particular types of PVCs, most strongly associated with subsequent heart failure," Marcus said. "Once that occurs, randomized trials among those higher-risk patients to catheter ablation of PVCs, for example, may be warranted."