What is a premature atrial contraction?

Premature atrial contraction (PAC) is a type of abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. The heart’s rhythm (heartbeat) is regulated by natural electrical impulses that travel through the heart muscle. These impulses tell the heart’s chambers when to contract. 
The heart’s rhythm, or heartbeat, is created by natural electrical impulses that cause the heart’s chambers to contract. In premature atrial contraction, an impulse generated in the upper chambers (the atria) “fires” early. This can cause both chambers of the heart to beat earlier than normal (conducted PAC) or may result in the impulse not passing to the ventricles (blocked PAC). Both may result in an occasional irregular heart rhythm. PACs are generally considered to be benign in children. PAC typically does not require therapy. However, if it is severe, medications may be prescribed to control it.  
These are early, extra or “skipped” heartbeats that are the most frequent cause of irregular heart rhythms. They can happen in the heart’s upper chambers, called premature atrial contractions, or the lower chambers, called premature ventricular contractions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.