Premature Atrial Contractions
Premature atrial contractions (PACs) is a medical condition in which the heart beats too early due to premature discharge of an electrical signal in the atria, which are the two upper chambers of the heart. PACs is one of the most common types of arrhythmia, a general term to describe a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow, or irregular (uneven). People suffering from PACs often describe the feeling as a "missing" or "skipping" heartbeat. In most cases, PACs occur in normal, healthy individuals without any evidence of heart disease and require little treatment, if any. Stress or stimulants such as tea, coffee, and alcohol can increase the frequency of PACs. In a smaller number of cases, PACs can be a sign of an underlying heart condition related to high blood pressure (hypertension) or a problem with one of the heart’s valves. After ruling out any underlying heart condition, most PACs are left untreated. In certain cases, however, the patient may be treated with medication to relieve any symptoms.
UAB Heart & Vascular Services delivers optimal patient care for heart rhythm disorders. You will be cared for by regional and world leaders in the treatment of heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, atrioventricular re-entrant tachycardia, and other heart rhythm abnormalities.
Our physicians evaluate the newest treatments and technologies and author professional publications that advance the field of arrhythmia treatment. Their extensive experience and academic backgrounds ensure that they are familiar with all types of heart rhythm disorders. Our academic medical center performs more than 600 heart rhythm-related procedures each year, and our success in treating all types of complex arrhythmias is well-documented. Our electrophysiologists have access to the UAB Heart and Vascular Center, one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast. It features the most advanced technology available, including four procedural suites dedicated to electrophysiology (the electrical signals in the heart). At UAB Medicine you are part of a program that carries out pioneering work in atrial fibrillation and advanced pacemaker and cardioverter defibrillator design.
Understand the risk factors and symptoms of heart arrhythmias, and when it is important for you to see a doctor.
Arrhythmia Risk Factors, Symptoms, & Treatments
If you've ever felt your heart skip a beat, you may have an arrhythmia. Tom McElderry, MD, an arrhythmia specialist at UAB, talks to Daytime Alabama on WVTM-TV, Channel 13, in Birmingham, Ala., about the symptoms and risk factors of arrhythmia, and what to do if you or a loved one experiences this condition.