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What Causes Heart PVCs?

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EKG Heart Rhythm

Imagine this scenario: You are enjoying your day, when suddenly,  you feel a strange sensation in the chest. Perhaps it felt like your heart skipped a beat. Or maybe you felt a hard thump followed by a pause in heartbeats. You may have noticed a brief fluttering feeling. Either way, it didn’t feel normal. You may have just experienced premature ventricular complexes, or PVCs.

A healthy human heart beats around 100,000 times a day. As a result, we typically don’t notice our heartbeat unless something unusual happens. But what happens when we feel that the regular rhythm of our heart is off?

What are PVCs?

Much like a home, the heart consists of four rooms called chambers. The upper level of the heart has two rooms known as the atria. The ventricles are the two rooms located on the bottom.

Just as a house is wired with electricity, so is the heart. When wired correctly, the electrical switch is the sinoatrial (SA) node in the right atrium. When activated, the SA node tells the top part of the heart to contract. The signal continues to travel down, passing through the atrioventricular (AV) node and continuing to the bottom of the heart. Stimulating the AV node causes the ventricles to contract.

The SA node is the heart’s natural pacemaker, and when working correctly, it causes the heart to beat anywhere from 60-100 times per minute. Doctors call this “normal sinus rhythm.”

Premature ventricular contractions, or PVCs for short, are irregular heartbeats. With PVCs, the signal to initiate the heartbeat comes from one of the ventricles instead of the SA node. More specifically, the impulse begins in the Purkinje fibers at the bottom of the ventricles. This early signal spreads through the heart, causing the ventricles to contract before they usually would.

Causes of premature ventricular contractions

While conventional medicine will tell you that PVCs are “normal,” they nearly always point to underlying pathology. So while occasional PVCs are typically not dangerous, they are a signal from the body that something is awry.

Multiple factors can contribute to the development of PVCs. However, the most common causes of PVCs include:

Electrolyte imbalance

The human body relies upon a delicate balance of minerals to function optimally. Unfortunately, years of poor farming practices have depleted our soil, resulting in much less nutrient-dense food than our ancestors ate. As a result, many individuals are deficient in critical heart-healthy minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium, and chloride.

One of the most common causes of PVCs is electrolyte imbalances. For example, low potassium levels disrupt the balance of ions in and around heart cells, resulting in extra excitability of the heart muscle. Any electrolyte imbalance disrupts the heart’s normal electrical signals, potentially causing the ventricles to contract too early.

Poor diet

Food is medicine, and a poor diet is the number one cause of PVCs. Diets rich in vitamins and minerals ensure the heart has everything it needs to maintain a normal rhythm. The best way to ward off PVCs is to consume an organic diet rich in vegetables, nuts, grass-fed beef, organs, and wild-caught seafood.

What we put in our bodies is as important to our hearts as what we keep out. Unfortunately, over 70 percent of conventional produce sold in the United States contains dangerous pesticide residue. Studies show that pesticide exposure increases the risk of heart arrhythmias. Sadly, many individuals unknowingly consume chemicals while trying to eat more vegetables and fruits.

Most Americans consume food that has gluten and is genetically modified. Moreover, the standard American diet is packed with artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavor enhancers. Unfortunately, these unhealthy toxins contribute to inflammation, which promotes PVCs.

The most effective way to prevent premature ventricular contractions is to eliminate chemicals from food. Eating a whole-food and organic diet is the key to warding off PVCs.

Environmental exposures

If a doctor tells you that your PVCs are “idiopathic,” odds are that environmental factors have unknowingly impacted your heart. While idiopathic means that there is no identifiable cause, the truth is that most conventional doctors simply don’t have the time or don’t know where to look.

Research shows that air pollution is a contributing cause of premature ventricular contractions. For example, a 2022 study found that healthy teens experienced an increase in PVCs within just two hours of exposure to fine particulate pollution.

While most people are aware of outdoor air pollution, very few know that indoor air pollution is more dangerous than outdoor air. Our homes are significant sources of environmental toxins. From air fresheners to toxic cleaning products, the cause of PVCs may be as close as your laundry room.

Finally, any previous exposure to mold or heavy metals may contribute to developing PVCs.

Medications

While our society currently takes medications like candy, they aren’t without significant side effects. Unfortunately, many commonly prescribed medications used to treat cardiovascular problems may be causing PVCs.

❖     What medications cause PVCs?

  1. Beta Blockers: These medications used to treat high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and other cardiovascular conditions may cause or worsen PVCs.
  2. Antiarrhythmics: The same medications used to treat abnormal heart rhythms may also cause or worsen PVCs.
  3. Pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen may contribute to PVCs. Studies have found that NSAIDs can cause heart palpitations and significantly increase the risk of arrhythmias.
  4. Antidepressants: While heart palpitations, anxiety, and depression often go hand-in-hand, studies have found that individuals taking antidepressants may be at higher risk for PVCs and other arrhythmias.
  5. Allergy, cold, and asthma medications: Cold medications, particularly decongestants, increase the risk of PVCs. Many over-the-counter cold medications contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. These stimulants increase heart rate and blood pressure, triggering heart palpitations. Moreover, bronchodilators used to treat asthma can cause or worsen PVCs.

Stress   

Stress is an often-underemphasized cause of premature ventricular contractions. However, chronic stress is a leading cause of PVCs.

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system. As the body goes into fight-or-flight, it triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. Stress hormones increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and prompt the release of glucose into the blood. All of these factors increase the risk of PVCs.

Poor sleep

Sleep is essential for health, allowing our bodies a much-needed respite from daily stressors. The sympathetic nervous system rests during sleep, cells repair and replenish, and hormones regulate.

Poor sleep quality increases the risk of abnormal heart rhythms such as PVCs. Moreover, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea contribute to heart rhythm abnormalities. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which individuals have pauses in breathing throughout the night. Therefore, individuals with PVCs may benefit from a sleep evaluation.

Lifestyle factors

Excessive caffeine, smoking, and illicit drug use all raise the risk of premature ventricular contractions, but does alcohol cause PVCs? Studies show that alcohol is indeed a contributing cause of PVCs. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it promotes water loss. So not only does drinking alcohol lead to dehydration, but it also contributes to a loss of electrolytes – both of which may lead to PVCs.

Other underlying health conditions

While PVCs are undoubtedly related to the heart, they may stem from other bodily places. For example, an imbalanced thyroid is a common cause of heart palpitations. Other conditions that may cause PVCs are hormonal imbalances, diabetes, high blood pressure, and anemia.

PVCs: A body out of balance

There is a reason why people have PVCs. Work with a healthcare professional who helps you to find the reason. It may be magnesium. It may be potassium. It may be omega-3. May be all the above.

At Natural Heart Doctor, we prefer Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well, Test-Don’t Guess and Evidence-based Supplements.

We are here to help you fix the PVCs before they get worse OR whatever is causing the PVCs leading to a more dangerous situation.

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Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

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Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

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Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

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Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.