Heart Block

Irregular heartbeats or slow heartbeats can be an indication of heart block. In this condition, the heart may stop for a few seconds. A normal range of heartbeats is 60 – 80 per minute. The heart muscle contracts and pumps the blood. Electrical signals generated in the heart control this muscle contraction. Irregular signals cause irregular heartbeats. Heart block reduces heart’s efficiency and so, major organs of the body may not get enough blood supply for their functioning.

What are the types of heart block

There are three types of heart block. Skipped heartbeats or disruption indicates the first-degree heart block. This may not require treatment. Drooped beats indicate the second-degree heart block. Dizziness may be a symptom. Treatment may involve introducing a pacemaker. Complete heart block or a third-degree heart block is a serious condition. It can occur when electrical signals do not travel between the upper chamber and the lower chamber of the heart. If not treated with a pacemaker, it can result in heart attack.

What is a bundle branch block

Bundle branch block or AV bundle is nothing but heart block. The electrical impulses pass through “bundle of HIS”. The left bundle and right bundle of the muscle fibres control the contraction of heart muscle. They contract together in a healthy heart. The signal block in the right side is not a serious condition. If it occurs in the left side, it can lead to coronary artery disease.

What are the causes of heart block

If damage occurs to the tissues that transmit the electrical signals, it can cause heart block. This is more common in older people having a history of the heart muscle diseases, coronary thrombosis, inflammation of the heart muscle or heart valve diseases.

Complete heart block can happen after a heart surgery or after a heart attack. If heart block is caused by congenital problems, it is called congenital heart block.

What are the symptoms of heart block

Mainly, slower or irregular heartbeats are the symptoms of heart block. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats felt by the patient, light-headedness, fainting and chest pain or a feeling of discomfort in the chest.

Older people with smoking habit or with a history of heart disease are prone to heart block.

You cannot do exercise when you have suffered of heart block, as the heart cannot pump the blood rapidly, so that the exerted muscles and organs can get enough oxygen.

How heart block is diagnosed

Cardiologists diagnose the heart block using several tests. They use ECG to measure the electrical activity. They use Holter monitor to observe the heart rate. Through echocardiogram they get a clear picture of the heart. Electrophysiology is used by them to detect the cause of abnormal rhythm. They use tilt-table to check for abnormal heartbeats.

How heart block is treated

Fitting a pacemaker is the long-term treatment for heart block. In modern pacemakers, you can set it to work when needed. There are pacemakers, which automatically restart the heart, when it stops beating. External electrical devices cannot interfere with the signals from pacemakers. However, MRI scan should not performed on the patient fitted with a pacemaker, as it interferes. Some people may need to have a pacing wire temporarily, before fitting the pacemaker.

For older people with weak symptoms of heart block, doctors do not recommend treatment. If an operation to fit a pacemaker could cause harm due to specific medical conditions in some people, they cannot be fitted with a pacemaker.

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