What are ventricular premature complexes (VPCs)?

Updated: Nov 26, 2016
  • Author: Jatin Dave, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Jose M Dizon, MD  more...
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Answer

Ventricular premature complexes (VPCs) are ectopic impulses originating from an area distal to the His Purkinje system. VPCs are the most common ventricular arrhythmia. Assessment and treatment of VPCs is challenging and complex, and is highly dependent on the clinical context. The prognostic significance of VPCs is variable and, again, best interpreted in the context of the underlying cardiac condition.

The approach to the evaluation and management of VPCs has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade. Observational studies and inferences from typical electrophysiology studies were initially focused on ventricular ectopy triggering ventricular tachycardia (VT), which, in turn, can degenerate into ventricular fibrillation, as a mechanisms for sudden cardiac death. The treatment paradigm in the 1970s and 1980s was to eliminate VPCs in patients after myocardial infarction (MI). The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) and other arrhythmia suppression studies have demonstrated that eliminating VPCs with available antiarrhythmic drugs increases the risk of death to patients without providing any measurable benefit. [1]


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