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Ventricular Premature Complexes Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Jatin Dave, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
Updated: Dec 30, 2015


Various symptoms are associated with VPCs, but the exact prevalence of symptoms is not known. Typical symptoms include palpitations, light-headedness, syncope, atypical chest pain, or fatigue. Palpitations are due to an augmented post-VPC beat and may be sensed as a pause rather than an extra beat.


Physical Examination

VPCs frequently are associated with variable or decreased intensity of heart sounds. An augmented beat following a dropped beat is heard frequently. Bounding jugular pulse (cannon a wave) from a loss of atrioventricular (AV) synchrony may be present. The follow-up beat after a VPC is stronger due to the postextrasystolic compensatory pause, allowing greater left ventricular (LV) filling, which usually causes greater intensity of that beat. This is known as extrasystolic potentiation. Conversely, the VPC itself may be underperfused and consequently not perceived by radial pulse, resulting in a spurious documentation of bradycardia.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Jatin Dave, MD, MPH Part-Time Clinical Instructor, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Attending Physician, Division of Aging, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Medical Director of Geriatrics, Tufts Health Plan

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: Tufts Health Plan, a not for profit organization.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Brian Olshansky, MD Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine

Brian Olshansky, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Cardiology, Heart Rhythm Society, Cardiac Electrophysiology Society, American Heart Association

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Guidant/Boston Scientific for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Medtronic for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Guidant/Boston Scientific for consulting; Received consulting fee from BioControl for consulting; Received consulting fee from Boehringer Ingelheim for consulting; Received consulting fee from Amarin for review panel membership; Received consulting fee from sanofi aventis for review panel membership.

Chief Editor

Jeffrey N Rottman, MD Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Cardiologist/Electrophysiologist, University of Maryland Medical System and VA Maryland Health Care System

Jeffrey N Rottman, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Heart Association, Heart Rhythm Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Drugs & Diseases gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous authors John Michael Gaziano, MD, MPH; Revat Lakhia, MD; and Shivkumar H Jha, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

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Ventricular premature complexes (VPCs). Ventricular trigeminy is present. Note that the VPCs are unimorphic and that a compensatory pause follows each VPC. This patient has asymptomatic idiopathic VPCs originating from the right ventricular outflow tract.
Table 1. Lown Classification
1Unifocal; < 30/h
2Unifocal; ≥ 30/h
4A2 consecutive
4B≥ 3 consecutive
5R-on-T phenomenon
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