To define the prevalence, frequency and characteristics of premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) in adults free of recognizable heart disease, we performed 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiography on 101 subjects (51 men and 50 women, mean age 48.8 years) in whom physical examination, chest x-ray, ECG, echocardiogram, maximal exercise stress test, right- and left-heart catheterization and coronary arteriography were normal. Thirty-nine subjects had at least 1 PVC/24 hours, but only four had more than 100 PVCs/24 hours and fewer than five had more than five PVCs in any given hour. The probability of having at least 1 PVC/24 hours increased with age (chi square = 11.789, p = 0.019). The number of PVCs/24 hours was also positively associated with age (4 = 0.33, p = 0.001). These was no consistent relationship between the presence or number of PVCs/24 hours and sex, blood pressure, weight, height, body mass index, serum potassium or calcium, cholesterol and triglyceride, hemoglobin, the ingestion of coffee, tea or alcohol, and cigarette smoking. Four subjects had multiform PVCs, two of whom had early PVCs.
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