When your heartbeat doesn’t follow the typical heartbeat pattern and instead is slightly offbeat, it could be due to a PVC or premature ventricular contractions. There are treatments that can correct this type of abnormal heart beat..
The heart beats in an even pattern. The top part of the heart squeezes, then the bottom part of the heart squeezes in regular rhythm.
However, sometimes the bottom part of the heart (the ventricles) can beat slightly out of rhythm. This is known as a premature ventricular contraction (PVC) or ventricular premature beat. When this occurs every third beat, it is referred to as trigeminy.
The heart conducts its own electricity, usually in a regular route. The electric signals go to certain pathways and parts of the heart that send signals to the nearby heart muscle to beat. In most people, the signals follow an expected pathway that an electrocardiogram (EKG) can trace.
However, in some people, the electricity takes a different path. This can result in abnormal heart rhythms. Atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat, is one example of an abnormal heart rhythm. Trigeminy is another.
An “irritable” area of the heart is usually the cause of trigeminy. This means that while the electricity is conducted through the heart, an area of the heart sends out a separate signal that affects how the heart beats.
In some people, this is a normal heartbeat pattern. Nothing is wrong with their heart, it just conducts beats differently from most of the population.
Stress and exhaustion can also result in trigeminy. These states cause a person’s body to release chemicals associated with stress that stimulate the heart and can lead to PVCs.
In other people, taking something that affects the heart can temporarily cause trigeminy. Examples include:
Most people with trigeminy don’t have symptoms with their heart rhythm. They may go their entire lives having occasional or constant episodes of trigeminy and never know it.
However, sometimes a person may have symptoms related to this heart rhythm. They may feel as if their heart is fluttering in their chest. Other symptoms a person may experience with trigeminy include:
In some people with known heart disease or heart problems, trigeminy can be a concern because the heart may be more likely to go into a harmful heart rhythm. Examples include
These heart rhythms affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively throughout the body. At their most severe, these heart rhythms could damage the heart and lead to cardiac arrest.
A doctor may first identify trigeminy by looking at a person’s EKG tracing. The EKG is a painless test that measures the electrical activity of the heart.
The doctor will identify the two regular (sinus) beats, plus the irregular beat. The irregular beat will be consistent in its appearance.
Sometimes a doctor may recommend a test that involves wearing a special monitor called a Holter monitor. It measures a person’s heart rhythm for a period lasting from several days to weeks.
Reviewing the monitor’s results can help a doctor identify how often a person’s heart rhythm is trigeminy.
Trigeminy isn’t necessarily a harmful rhythm. If you don’t have any symptoms related to it, your doctor may not recommend any treatments. They could suggest that you avoid things that could trigger trigeminy, such as caffeine or certain drugs, to see if your heart rhythm returns to normal.
If you’re having symptoms, your doctor may try to identify a potential cause.
For example, sometimes after a heart attack a person will have less-common heart rhythms in the form of trigeminy or other variations.
A doctor will often prescribe medications, such as antiarrhythmics or beta-blockers, to improve the heart’s function and reduce the frequency of the abnormal heart rhythm.
Sometimes a doctor may recommend a procedure called a cardiac ablation. This involves inserting a special catheter through the groin and advancing it toward the heart. The doctor will use the catheter to ablate or burn small areas of the heart that are causing abnormal heart rhythms.
Home treatments for trigeminy involve avoiding the foods and substances known to affect heart rhythm. Engaging in stress-relieving practices and getting more sleep may also help to reduce the heart’s Irritability, decreasing the likelihood that trigeminy will occur.
For most people, trigeminy doesn’t cause any problems or adverse effects. If you do have symptoms, see your doctor. They can recommend a variety of treatments to promote a healthy heart and ideally correct abnormal heart rhythms.