Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment pacemaker specialist Home Care diet pulse checks warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Third Degree Heart Block Home Care

Home care measures for a person with a third degree heart block include:

  • 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
  • If you have been prescribed medications to control high cholesterol, so not skip doses.
  • Follow an exercise plan developed with your doctor
  • Weight loss if you are overweight.
  • Take any prescribed heart medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your heart medication.
    • Avoid running out of your prescribed heart medications.
    • Don't stop your medication when you feel better.
    • Talk to your doctor before stopping your heart medication if you feel worse.
    • Be aware of potential drug side effects.
  • Learn how to take your blood pressure.
  • Check your blood pressure every day:
    • Keep a log of your results.
    • Report elevated blood pressure to your doctor.
  • If you have diabetes:
  • Learn how to take your own pulse.
  • Control chronic stress and anxiety
  • Let your doctor know if you are suffering from severe or prolonged depression.
  • 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

Third Degree Heart Block Diet

A healthy diet for people with third degree 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.

Third Degree Heart Block Pulse Checks

If you have third degree 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

Third Degree Heart Block Warning Signs

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

Continue to Third Degree Heart Block Outlook

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Third Degree Heart Block References
  1. Bevilacqua LM, Berul CI. Advances in pediatric electrophysiology. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2004 Oct;16(5):494-9. [15367841]
  2. Liautaud S, Khan AJ, Nalamasu SR, Tan IJ, Onwuanyi AE. Variable atrioventricular block in systemic lupus erythematosus. Clin Rheumatol. 2005 Apr;24(2):162-5. [15517446]
  3. Manfredini R, Gallerani M, Boari B, Maraldi C, la Cecilia O, Rafael Ferreira AB, Smolensky MH, Portaluppi F. Morning preference in onset of symptomatic third-degree atrioventricular heart block. Chronobiol Int. 2002 Jul;19(4):785-91. [12182503]
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