Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Heart Block Overview

What is heart block?
A person with heart block has an abnormal heartbeat that weakens the pumping action of the heart. Normally, an electrical impulse stimulates the muscle fibers in the heart to contract. The impulse spreads through the heart in a very organized manner. Heart block interrupts the normal electrical impulse. There are three types of heart block: first degree, second degree, and third degree. The most common causes of heart block include coronary artery disease and medication side effects.

What are the symptoms of heart block?
First degree heart block and second degree heart block usually do not cause symptoms. Third degree heart block usually does cause symptoms. Symptoms of heart block include chest pain, breathing difficulty, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, leg swelling, palpitations, rapid breathing, slow pulse, and low blood pressure.

How does the doctor treat heart block?
Treatment for heart block depends on the type of heart block, as well as the underlying cause for the heart block. Treatment for heart block may include intravenous fluids, cardiac monitoring, and stopping medications that may cause heart block. A pacemaker may be required to treat some cases of heart block.

Continue to Heart Block Symptoms

Last Updated: Sep 28, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Heart 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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