Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), which can be prevented through medical or ablation therapy, may be a modifiable risk factor for congestive heart failure (CHF) and death, according to a study that was published online ahead of print in the July 14 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 


Senior author Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, and colleagues analyzed data from the national Cardiovascular Health Study on 1,139 participants with a normal left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and no history of CHF. Patients were randomly assigned to 24-hour monitoring by ambulatory electrocardiography. A higher frequency of PVCs was associated with LVEF decline, increased incidents of CHF, and greater mortality. 


“We cannot exclude the possibility that PVCs are an ‘epiphenomenon’ or some marker of future heart failure,” said Dr. Marcus. “However, as everyone in our study had no previous history of heart failure and had a normal left ventricle by an ultrasound of the heart, our data would appear to be quite convincing that PVCs represent an important predictor of the disease, causal or not. If indeed there is a causal relationship, this could represent a new approach to preventing heart failure from occurring in the first place.”