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What Causes Premature Atrial Contractions?

Have you ever reminisced about the initial time you fell in love? You might have exclaimed, “My heart skipped a beat.” Or maybe you’ve encountered a nerve-racking moment that left you feeling like your heart stopped. Most commonly, these were expressions of excitement, not actual heart rhythm issues.

But if you have detected a sudden shift in your heart’s rhythm, you may have experienced a premature atrial contraction (PAC). However, if your heart quickly returned to its normal pace, you likely didn’t pay much attention to the unusual heartbeat. However, do these odd heart sensations signify a more significant issue?

What are premature atrial contractions?

Like a house’s electrical system, the heart has a pathway of electrical signals. The sinus (SA) node, located at the top of the heart, initiates the electrical impulses, causing the heart’s upper chambers or atria to contract. The electrical signal then travels to the atrioventricular (AV) node, which signals the ventricles to contract, sending blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.

Unfortunately, the heart’s electrical system can go wrong. While all heart cells can produce an electrical signal, they generally leave this task to the SA and AV nodes. Occasionally, other cells send out signals that disrupt the normal electrical pathway.

Premature heartbeats can result from signals originating in the heart’s myocardium in the upper chambers, causing the heart to compensate by delaying its rhythm briefly before returning to normal. As a result, the succeeding beat is usually more forceful, resulting in a feeling of a skipped beat or thump. This is known as a premature atrial contraction (PAC).

What causes premature atrial contractions?

PACs can arise due to a variety of reasons. Sadly, doctors often label them “idiopathic,” indicating they cannot pinpoint the cause. And doctors usually brush off the symptoms as not serious and “not a big deal”.  Well, it is often a big deal to the patient.

Most cases of PACs can be identified if the right doctor knows where to look. The following can lead to PACs: 

  • Mold or heavy metal toxicity
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Poor sleep including sleep apnea
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Dental infections
  • Prescription drugs
  • Use of tobacco or illicit drugs
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to electromagnetic radiation
  • Environmental pollution

Does stress cause premature atrial contractions?

Stress is an often ignored cause of premature atrial contractions (PACs). However, psychological stress, including PACs, is a primary trigger for heart rhythm problems.

When you’re stressed, your body’s “fight or flight” response is activated, which causes the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones create physical changes in the body, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate. This makes it more likely to experience PACs.

Multiple studies confirm cardiac arrhythmias, such as PACs, worsen during stress. Moreover, research finds that other negative emotions, such as anger and depression, also may trigger heart palpitations.

Highly anxious people often wonder if anxiety can cause premature atrial contractions (PACs). It is worth noting that anxiety is indeed a significant cause of PACs. Regrettably, anxiety and heart palpitations are frequently experienced together, and this can create a self-perpetuating cycle of symptoms.

Next Steps

The human heart is designed to beat in a regular rhythm. Therefore, while occasional PACs may not be concerning, recurring heart palpitations may indicate a problem. And whatever is causing the PACs can lead to more serious conditions.

Your MD may not be interested in helping you find the cause and the cure of your symptoms. At Natural Heart Doctor, we do care and have been successful with 1000s of patients.

If you are worried about the rhythm of your heart, we suggest consulting with one of our expert healthcare providers. Through collaboration, you can explore your symptoms, possible diagnostic tests, and treatment options to help you achieve your 100 year heart.

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About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Lauren Lattanza Fees

20 Minute Virtual Call: $250

Initial In-Person Appointment:

Follow Up In-Person Appointment:       

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

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson Fees

30 Minute Virtual Call: $1500

Initial In-Person Appointment:

Follow Up In-Person Appointment:       

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.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

He has been named one of America’s Top Functional Medicine Doctors and is a five-time winner of the Natural Choice Awards as a holistic M.D. Dr. Wolfson’s work has been covered by more than 100 media outlets, including NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. His book “The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health” was an Amazon #1 best-seller.

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.


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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 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.