Extraventricular premature beats: Causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment

Extraventricular premature beats: Causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment

Monday - 24/06/2024 10:13
Extraventricular premature beats (EPBs) are abnormal contractions in the ventricles that occur prematurely before the atria signal contraction. These heartbeats often do not effectively pump blood to the body, a condition known as arrhythmia, which makes the heartbeat irregular. EPBs are the most common type of arrhythmia and can occur in individuals with or without heart disease.
EPBs are a subtype of premature beats (which include atrial and ventricular premature beats). These premature beats occur when the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) contract prematurely before their normal cycle. While EPBs are often harmless and may not require treatment, symptoms such as palpitations, prolonged chest discomfort, or difficulty breathing should prompt medical attention.

1. Causes of the condition
EPBs can occur in healthy individuals, as well as those experiencing prolonged stress or anxiety, consuming caffeine-containing foods (coffee, tea, chocolate), alcohol, tobacco, addictive substances, or as side effects of medications such as antihypertensives, antiarrhythmics, or due to certain conditions like hyperthyroidism, anemia, hypertension, etc.

2. Symptoms and diagnosis
The condition often manifests with subtle symptoms, but individuals experiencing palpitations, dizziness, chest discomfort, a feeling of faintness in the chest, or prolonged difficulty breathing should seek evaluation at a cardiology specialty clinic at a regional hospital or higher to undergo direct examination and tests to assess heart, lung, and thyroid function, including:
- Body-worn heart monitors: aid in detecting causes of irregular heartbeats
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): a standard test at specialty hospitals that records the heart's electrical activity.
- Echocardiogram: assesses heart size, shape, pumping ability, and the extent of heart tissue damage.
- Holter monitor: records heart activity over 24 or 48 hours.
- Electrophysiological study: uses a catheter inserted into the heart to provoke and assess arrhythmias, guiding the most appropriate treatment.

- Other tests: tilt table testing, stress tests, blood tests, etc.

3. Treatment options
For most cases of EPBs in healthy individuals, no treatment is necessary. However, if EPBs occur frequently, accompanied by other arrhythmias or heart disease, increasing the risk of malignant arrhythmias, medications may be prescribed. Common medications used include Panangin, Cordarone.

4. Preventive measures
The majority of EPB cases are linked to stimulant use or chronic stress, indicating that lifestyle changes are crucial for treatment. Cardiology experts recommend:
- Limiting stimulants like coffee, tobacco, and alcohol, as they commonly cause arrhythmias.
- Managing stress: practicing deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or seeking counseling to reduce anxiety.
- Monitoring EPBs throughout the day: keeping track of the time and frequency of EPBs and conditions triggering them, such as after intense exercise or consuming certain foods.
- Adopting a healthy, balanced diet rich in green vegetables, seasonal fruits, and prioritizing fruits like oranges, lemons, bananas, and apples.

EPBs are generally not dangerous when infrequent in healthy individuals, but those with any heart disease should not take it lightly, as it could lead to cardiac arrest at any time. Understanding the basic knowledge of EPBs and other heart diseases is crucial for maintaining the health of oneself and loved ones.

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