When your heart is concerned, even a little discomfort should be enough to visit your healthcare specialist. We are all aware of conditions like heart attacks and strokes, but do you know what a heart block is?
Sometimes, the electrical signal that manages your heartbeat experiences partial or complete blockage. This condition is termed ‘heart block.’ Also known as AV block, your heart can start beating slower when the electrical signals are disturbed. Do you know there are three types of heart block, depending on the electrical signal impairment? In this blog, we will discuss the causes, treatment, and types of AV block.
What is Heart Block?
A heart block occurs when there is an issue with the electrical signal of the heart. Since the electrical signal controls the heartbeat, the disturbance can affect the rate and rhythm of your heart. Atrioventricular (AV) block and conduction disorder are other names for the condition.
Causes of Heart Block
Some individuals have had AV block since birth, which is called congenital heart block. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus can also disturb the electrical signals in your heart. In addition, birth defects are also responsible for heart block.
An acquired heart block occurs when it develops later in life:
Surgeries that affect the electrical system of one’s heart
Damage due to heart attack
Clogged arteries, heart failure, and other heart issues
Types of a Heart Block
The extent of the electrical signal impairment will determine which type of heart block you are suffering from. The three heart block types include these:
- First-Degree Heart Block
First-degree heart block involves the slowing down of electrical signals as they move through the AV node and reach the ventricles. There is a delay in the impulse, and it may not require treatment at all. This is because first-degree heart block is the mildest type.
2. Second-Degree Heart Block
When the electrical signal between atria and ventricles intermittently gets blocked and fails to conduct, second-degree heart block is the result. It can be further divided into two types, mentioned below:
- Type I or Mobitz Type I: Also called Wenckebach’s AV block, this is a less severe form of second-degree heart block. The electrical signal lowers until it skips a beat.
- Type II or Mobitz Type II: Most of the electrical signals will reach the ventricles often. However, most signals fail to reach the heart, resulting in an irregular and slowed heartbeat.
3. Third-Degree Heart Block
A third-degree heart block is the most severe type — the electrical signals from the atria to the ventricles are completely blocked! The ventricle typically starts to act like a pacemaker, beating on its own. However, the heartbeat is slower and irregular, and the affected individual cannot rely on it. Moreover, it impacts how your heart pumps blood out to your body.
Heart Block Treatment
You will need to visit a heart specialist for proper treatment. Often a pacemaker in the chest is recommended for second or third-degree heart block. You might be sedated for the minor surgery that involves placing a pacemaker, which acts as a backup electrical system for your heart, reminding it to beat at a normal rate.
When the electrical signals in your heart are affected, you could get a type of AV Block — first-, second-, or third-degree. Our Atrial Fibrillation Centers of America team is equipped with the necessary tools to tend to your heart. Visit us at 13325 Hargrave Rd. Suite 280, Houston, TX, 77070, to get your heart beating normally again! Dial (832) 478-5067 to talk to us now!