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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.
Heart block can be caused by many things that affect the electrical system of the heart. These things include the effects of aging, certain medicines, and another health condition.
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.
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.
How heart block is treated can depend on the type and what is causing it. Treatment can also depend on your symptoms. If heart block doesn't cause symptoms, it may not be treated. Treatment may be a pacemaker. You and your doctor can decide what treatment is right for you.
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: December 16, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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