What Is Premature Atrial Contractions

Premature atrial contractions, also known as PACs, are a type of heart rhythm disorder that affects the upper chambers of the heart, known as the atria. PACs are characterized by irregular heartbeat, which can feel like a skipped or extra beat. The condition is generally harmless, but it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying heart condition.

The Causes of Premature Atrial Contractions

The exact causes of PACs are not known, but they are often associated with changes in the electrical signals that control the heart`s rhythm. Some of the factors that can contribute to the development of PACs include:

– Dehydration

– Caffeine

– Alcohol

– Tobacco use

– Stress

– Sleep disorders

– Thyroid disease

– Some medications

Symptoms of Premature Atrial Contractions

Premature atrial contractions may not cause any symptoms, and many people do not even realize they have the condition. However, some people may experience:

– A feeling of skipped or extra heartbeats

– A fluttering sensation in the chest

– Dizziness or lightheadedness

– Shortness of breath

– Fatigue

– Chest discomfort or pain

Diagnosis of Premature Atrial Contractions

To diagnose PACs, a doctor will typically perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor the heart`s electrical activity. The ECG will show if there are any irregularities in the heart`s rhythm, including PACs. Other tests that may be used to diagnose the condition include a holter monitor, which records the heart`s activity over a 24-hour period, and an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to create images of the heart.

Treatment for Premature Atrial Contractions

In most cases, PACs do not require treatment, and the condition will resolve on its own. However, if the symptoms are severe or the PACs are frequent, the doctor may recommend treatment to help manage the condition. Treatment options may include:

– Avoiding triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco

– Medications to control the heart`s rhythm

– Radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that uses heat to destroy the tissue that is causing the irregular heartbeat


Premature atrial contractions are a common heart rhythm disorder that can cause irregular heartbeat. Although the condition is generally harmless, it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying heart condition. If you experience any symptoms of PACs, it is important to speak with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment if necessary. By taking care of your heart health, you can help prevent the development of more serious heart conditions in the future.

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