A heart block is a problem with your heart's electrical system. Normally, a small area of the heart (sinus node) creates the electrical signals that cause the heart to beat in a timed and regular way. A heart block occurs when the signal is blocked. This disrupts the heartbeat. A heart block does not mean that blood flow to the heart is blocked.
There are three types of heart blocks. In a first-degree heart block, the signal is slower than normal. But the heart rate is normal, and the heart usually is not damaged. Some medicines may cause a first-degree heart block.
In a second-degree heart block, some signals do not reach the lower chambers of the heart. This can cause the heart to skip a beat or have an abnormal rhythm.
In a third-degree heart block, the signal is completely blocked from reaching the lower chambers. This can cause the heart to slow down a lot or even stop beating. It is a very serious condition.
A first-degree heart block usually does not cause problems and does not need treatment. Second- and third-degree heart blocks can be treated by placing a pacemaker under your skin. The pacemaker is connected to your heart with thin wires. It helps your heart to beat in an even rhythm.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: September 21, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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