What is a premature ventricular contraction (PVC)?

Updated: Jan 13, 2017
  • Author: James E Keany, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Answer

A premature ventricular contraction (PVC) is caused by an ectopic cardiac pacemaker located in the ventricle. PVCs are characterized by premature and bizarrely shaped QRS complexes that are unusually long (typically >120 msec) and appear wide on the electrocardiogram (ECG). These complexes are not preceded by a P wave, and the T wave is usually large and oriented in a direction opposite the major deflection of the QRS.

The clinical significance of PVCs depends on their frequency, complexity, and hemodynamic response.


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