Got other questions on PAC or Afib? See the Qaly guides on PAC and Afib:
- What PAC Looks Like on Your ECG
- What Heart Palpitations and Irregular Heartbeats Look Like on Your ECG
- What Afib Looks Like on Your ECG
- How to Read an ECG: Stanford Cardiologist Explains
- The Ultimate Cardiologist's Guide to the Smartwatch ECG
Electrocardiograms (ECGs) are an integral part of heart health assessment. Their importance has only grown with the rise of smartwatches and wearables that offer on-the-spot ECG monitoring. In this article, we’ll explore two ECG rhythms: multiple premature atrial contractions (PACs) and atrial fibrillation (Afib). The distinction between PAC vs Afib is crucial to better understand our heart's activity and overall health. Let’s dive in.
What’s a Premature Atrial Contraction (PAC)?
Premature atrial contractions are early beats that originate from the atria — the upper chambers of the heart. When multiple PACs occur, they appear as irregular early beats on an ECG. While occasional PACs are usually benign, frequent PACs can sometimes indicate underlying heart disease or trigger other arrhythmias.
What’s Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)?
Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as afib, is a form of irregular heart rhythm, often characterized by a rapid, irregular beating of the atria.
On an ECG, atrial fibrillation is represented by a lack of distinct P waves and an irregularly irregular RR interval. Here’s more on what Afib looks like on your watch ECG.
What’s the Difference Between Multiple PACs and Afib?
When comparing PAC vs Afib, several key differences and similarities emerge. Both conditions involve the atria and can cause irregular heart rhythms. However, PACs represent a disruption in the regular sinus rhythm by early heartbeats, while Afib signifies a more chaotic, disorganized atrial activity leading to a rapid and irregular rhythm.
In terms of health impact, occasional PACs are usually benign, but frequent or multiple PACs can sometimes be a precursor to more serious arrhythmias like Afib. Afib, in turn, can lead to a range of complications, including stroke and heart failure, particularly if left untreated.
It's crucial to note that while smartwatches and wearables provide helpful insights, they can't replace a comprehensive evaluation by healthcare professionals. Any concerns about your heart rhythm, including PAC vs Afib ECG patterns, should be discussed with your healthcare provider to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate management. Stay informed, stay proactive, and stay heart healthy!
Still Not Sure if It’s Premature Atrial Contraction (Multiple) or Atrial Fibrillation on Your ECG?
Differentiating between PACs vs Afib on your ECG can be tricky. If you’re still looking for help interpreting your ECG further, check out the Qaly app on App Store or Play Store. On Qaly, human experts will interpret your ECGs within minutes, day or night. Try out the Qaly app for free today!