Atrial Premature Beats

Atrial premature beats are common, and should not be considered an abnormal finding. They can be found in up to 70% of young adults and in 99% of people over the age of 50. Many people are not aware of them, but once someone is aware, they will be more likely to notice them in the future. 

 

They become more common with age. They are also more common in taller people and those who undertake more exercise. They are more common in some individuals with heart disease and can start more significant arrhythmias in susceptible individuals, for example atrial fibrillation; atrial fibrillation is more common in people with very frequent atrial premature beats.

 

Potential precipitants of atrial premature beats include smoking, coffee, alcohol and stress, although the effects are variable between individuals. Adjustment of lifestyle can therefore be helpful. Generally no medical therapy is advised. In some people medications such as beta-blockers can be helpful. Magnesium supplements have also been shown to be of help.

 

References:

 

Circulation. 2010 May 4;121(17):1904-11. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.874982. Epub 2010 Apr 19. Excessive supraventricular ectopic activity and increased risk of atrial fibrillation and stroke. Binici Z, Intzilakis T, Nielsen OW, Køber L, Sajadieh A.

 

Circulation. 2012 Nov 6;126(19):2302-8. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.112300. Epub 2012 Oct 9. Premature atrial contractions in the general population: frequency and risk factors. Conen D, Adam M, Roche F, Barthelemy JC, Felber Dietrich D, Imboden M, Künzli N, von Eckardstein A, Regenass S, Hornemann T, Rochat T, Gaspoz JM, Probst-Hensch N, Carballo D.

 

Arq Bras Cardiol. 2012 Jun;98(6):480-7. Epub 2012 May 15. Successful improvement of frequency and symptoms of premature complexes after oral magnesium administration. Falco CN, Grupi C, Sosa E, Scanavacca M, Hachul D, Lara S, Sacilotto L, Pisani CF, Ramires JA, Darrieux F.