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Premature Atrial Contractions

Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs) are extra heartbeats that begin in one of your heart's two upper chambers (atria). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm. They are a type of heart arrhythmia. If you have occasional premature atrial contractions, but you're otherwise healthy, there's probably no reason for concern, and no need for treatment.

If you have frequent premature atrial contractions or underlying heart disease, you might need treatment. Consider making an appointment with a cardiologist to assess your heart health.

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Causes of Premature Atrial Contractions

Although the exact cause is unknown, certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for this condition. These are known as risk factors. They include modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors.

Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

  • High blood pressure
  • Long history of cigarette smoking and/or drug abuse.
  • Excessive amounts of alcohol consumption over the years.
  • Excessive amount of caffeine or other stimulants.
  • Little to no physical activity.
  • Extreme levels of anxiety.

Other conditions that contribute to the development of PACs:

Symptoms of Premature Atrial Contractions

Premature atrial contractions often cause few or no symptoms. But you might feel an odd sensation in your chest, such as:

  • Fluttering
  • Skipped heartbeats or missed heartbeats
  • Increased awareness of your heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations

Diagnosis of Premature Atrial Contractions

Typically, your doctor will perform the following diagnostic tests and procedures:

Treatment of Premature Atrial Contractions

For most people, PACs with an otherwise normal heart won't need treatment. However, if you have frequent PACs, your doctor might recommend treatment. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle Changes


  • Anti-arrhythmic medications will help control your heart’s rhythm.
  • Anticoagulants “blood-thinners” will help treat, prevent and reduce blood clots.
  • Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Calcium channel blockers will help relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while also reducing the heart's workload.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

At RWJBarnabas Health, we are the destination for ensuring your heart health.

If you are concerned about premature atrial contractions, connect with one of our expert New Jersey cardiologists.

Get Your Heart Checked

Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900

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