Background: Idiopathic premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) usually are considered benign, even when frequent. However, case reports have demonstrated a possible link between frequent PVCs and left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. In addition, frequent PVCs recently were demonstrated to be associated with increased LV dimensions and cardiomyopathy.
Methods: Among 60 consecutive patients with idiopathic, frequent PVCs (>10/hour), a reduced LV ejection fraction (EF; mean 34% +/- 13%) was present in 22 (37%) patients. Patients with decreased LV function had a greater PVC burden on a 24-hour Holter monitor than patients with normal EF (37% +/- 13% vs. 11% +/- 10% of all QRS complexes; P <.0001). There was a significant inverse correlation between the PVC burden and the EF before ablation (r = 0.73, P <.0001).
Results: The PVCs originated in the right ventricular outflow tract in 31 (52%) of 60 patients, the LV outflow tract in 9 (15%) of 60 patients, and in other sites in 13 (22%) of 60 patients. The site of PVC origin could not be determined in seven patients. Ablation was completely successful in 48 (80%) patients. In patients with an abnormal EF before ablation, LV function normalized in 18 (82%) of 22 patients from a baseline of 34% to 59% +/- 7% (P <.0001) within 6 months. In the four patients in whom ablation was ineffective, the EF further declined from 34% +/- 10% to 25% +/- 7% (P = .06) during follow-up. In a control group of 11 patients with a similar PVC burden (30% +/- 8%) and a reduced EF (28% +/- 13%) who did not undergo ablation, the EF remained unchanged in 10/11 patients over 19 +/- 17 months of follow-up and one patient underwent heart transplantation.
Conclusion: LV dysfunction in the setting of frequent, idiopathic PVCs may represent a form of cardiomyopathy that can be reversed by catheter ablation of the PVCs.