Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment pacemaker specialist Home Care diet pulse check warning signs Underlying Cause Types Anatomy Physiology

AV Block Home Care

Home care for heart block includes:

  • Avoid alcohol, or drink alcohol in moderation:
    • For men: no more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day
    • For women: no more than 1 alcoholic beverage per day
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid exposure to secondary smoke.
  • Eat a healthy heart diet:
    • Limit your intake of fat to 30% of your total calories.
    • 10% to 15% of your total calories should be in the form of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil.
    • Low cholesterol diet.
    • Low salt diet.
    • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fats
  • Weight loss if you are overweight
  • Follow an exercise plan developed with your doctor.
  • Learn how to take your own pulse.
  • If you have high blood pressure:
    • Learn how to take your blood pressure.
    • Check your blood pressure every day
    • Keep a blood pressure diary.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

AV Block Diet

A healthy diet for people with heart block should include:

  • Limit total fat intake to no more than 20 to 25% of your total calories:
    • Less than 7% of the day's total calories from saturated fat.
    • Up to 10% of the day's total calories from polyunsaturated fat.
    • Up to 20% of the day's total calories from monounsaturated fat
  • Less than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day.
  • Just enough calories to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. (You may want to ask your doctor or registered dietitian what is a reasonable calorie level for you.)
  • Reduced salt to 2 grams per day.
  • Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Limiting iron intake: too much iron can increase atherosclerosis
  • More complex carbohydrates, such as starch and fiber. Whole grains and brown rice are good fiber sources. Other sources include:
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Bran
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Legumes
  • Check with your doctor about supplementing your diet with B vitamins. Some people may benefit from these supplements.

AV Block Pulse Check

If you have heart block, it is important to learn how monitor your pulse at home.

The pulse may be taken in a few locations, but the most commonly used location is the wrist.

Locations for Taking a Pulse

  • Wrist: the radial artery is located in the wrist crease, on the thumb-side. This is an excellent place to measure the pulse.
  • Neck: the carotid artery lies on either side of the Adam's apple, just in front of the large muscle in the neck. Check the pulse on one side only: never press on both carotid arteries at the same time.
  • Elbow: the brachial artery is located in the elbow crease, on the inner aspect of the elbow, next to the bicep tendon.
  • Groin: the femoral artery is located in the crease between the thigh and the abdomen, halfway between the pubic hair and the hip.
  • Ankle: the posterior tibial artery is located on the inside of the ankle, right behind the prominent bone, called the medial malleolus, on the inside aspect of the ankle.

In order to feel the pulse, place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the artery, and then press gently. Do not obstruct the flow through the vessel.

Interpreting Pulse Results
Count the number of pulsations that occur over 20 seconds, and then multiply this number by three. The result is the heart rate, or number of heartbeats per minute.

When measuring the pulse, try to assess the rate and the rhythm. Take note of an unsteady rhythm or extra beats. Report a rapid heart rate or extra beats to your doctor.

Normal Values for Resting Pulse
Age RangeAverage Beats Per Minute
1 month120-130
6 months120-130
1-2 years110-120
2-3 years100-110
4-5 years95-105
6-8 years90-100
10-12 years85-95
14 years75-85

AV Block Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a heart block and any of the following:

If you have a pacemaker, notify your doctor for:

Continue to AV Block Underlying Cause

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed AV Block References
  1. Agarwala B, Sheikh Z, Cibils LA. Congenital complete heart block. J Natl Med Assoc. 1996 Nov;88(11):725-9. [8961692]
  2. Batra AS, Epstein D, Silka MJ. The clinical course of acquired complete heart block in children with acute myocarditis. Pediatr Cardiol. 2003 Sep-Oct;24(5):495-7. [14627323]
  3. Huang M, Krahn AD, Yee R, Klein GJ, Skanes AC. Optimal pacing for symptomatic AV block: a comparison of VDD and DDD pacing. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2004 Jan;27(1):19-23. [14720150]
  4. MacKenzie R. Second-degree AV block. J Insur Med. 2004;36(4):327-32. [1568321]
  5. Ozdemir K, Altunkeser BB, Korkut B, Tokac M, Gok H. Effect of left bundle branch block on systolic and diastolic function of left ventricle in heart failure. Angiology. 2004 Jan-Feb;55(1):63-71. [14759091]
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