Atrioventricular Block

What is an Atrioventricular Block?

What is an Atrioventricular Block?

Atrioventricular block (AV block) is a heart blockage that happens when the electrical signals between the atria and ventricles of the heart are blocked. This condition can cause a reduction in the heart's efficiency in pumping blood and lead to signs like dizziness, fainting and shortness of breath. There are three types of Atrioventricular Blocks, and all atrioventricular block types vary with extreme to mild symptoms. AV block treatment involves medication, a pacemaker, or other medical treatments depending on the severity of the condition.

Types of Atrioventricular Block?

The three types of AV block, classified on the extent of impairment in the electrical conduction between the atria and the ventricles of the heart, are: 

  • First-degree AV block:  This atrioventricular block type is the mild form, in which the electrical impulses reach the ventricles late yet reach with interruption.

  • Second-degree AV block: This AV block happens when some of the electrical impulses from the Atria fail to reach the ventricles, which leads to missed heartbeats.

  • Third-Degree AV block: This atrioventricular block type is the severe form of this condition. It causes complete blockage of the Electrical impulses between the atria and ventricles. As a result, the ventricles develop their electrical signals to maintain an independent heartbeat, which leads to a decline in the heart's ability to pump blood.


The AV block symptoms vary depending on the extent of the blockage and the underlying causes. These symptoms are: 

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitation or uneven heartbeat
  • Memory problems in severe cases

It's important to know that some AV patients may not face all the symptoms. However, if you are experiencing any AV block symptoms, you must seek medical attention immediately.


AV block causes include: 

  • Ageing: The majority of AV block cases are caused by ageing; as we grow, the
    heart's electrical conduction system may sink, leading to AV block.
  • Heart disease: Diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attack,
    myocarditis and cardiomyopathy can lead to damage to the heart muscles and
    disrupt the electrical impulses between the atria and ventricles
  • Medications: Beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin can slow
    down the heart rate, which can cause AV block.
  • Inherited conditions:  Some heart conditions are rare genetic disorders
    inherited from the family, such as Lenegre disease and Lev disease, which can
    cause AV block.
  • Other factors: AV block condition can be caused by conditions that impact the
    autonomic nervous system, such as sleep apnoea, carotid sinus
    hypersensitivity or by electrolyte imbalances, such as low potassium and
    magnesium level.


Some factors that may increase the risk of AV block include certain medications, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin, which can lead to this condition.  Some rare genetic disorders, such as Lenegre disease and Lev disease, can also increase the risk of developing AV block. An imbalance in Electrolytes, such as Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood, can be caused by AV block. Autonomic nervous system disorders, conditions that affect the autonomic nervous system, such as sleep apnoea or carotid sinus hypersensitivity, can increase the risk of developing AV block. 
Its important to note that having one or more risk factors for AV block does not necessarily mean that a person will develop the condition. However, suppose you have any risk factors for AV block. In that case, its important to discuss your concerns with a healthcare provider and take steps to manage your overall health and reduce your risk of developing the condition.

How to Prevent Atrioventricular Block?

Atrioventricular block management is not always preventable, mainly if its caused by factors such as ageing or genetic conditions. However, some steps can reduce or control the risk of developing this condition. 

These are:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, following a balanced
    diet, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco intake, can keep your heart healthy
    and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
  • If you have underlying conditions that can increase the risk of this condition,
    such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It would help if you
    worked with the Doctor that can help you with these conditions.
  • If you are taking medications that can be the risk factor in developing AV
    block, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, or digoxin, its
    essential to take your Doctor's advice and monitor your heartbeat regularly.
  • Being overweight can increase the risk of developing heart disease and other
    conditions leading to AV block.
  • Regular check-ups by visiting your Doctor can help detect early symptoms of
    heart problems, including AV block, and it will enable immediate treatment
    for the condition.
    Preventing AV block conditions is not always possible, but you can maintain a healthy lifestyle to control the risk of developing this condition.


There are three stages of AV block which include: 

  • First-degree AV block: in the first stage, the electrical signal which passes from the atria and ventricles delays the signal; however, all the signals are transmitted from the atria to the ventricles, due to which the heart functions normally.
  • Second-degree AV block: In this stage, some electrical signals that run from the atria to the ventricles are blocked or delayed. Depending on the extent of the blockage, Second degree AV blocks have two subtypes:
    • Mobitz type I (Wenckebach): this type refers to an irregular heartbeat because of the progressive lengthening of the delay between the atria and ventricles until one beat is stopped.
    • Mobitz type II: this type is characterized by periodic blockage of electrical signals from the atria to the ventricles, which can be associated with severe symptoms.
  • Third-degree AV block: in the third-degree stage, there is a complete blockage of electrical signals, resulting in independent beating of the atria and ventricle that can slow down the heartbeat. This Degree is a severe form of AV block.

The treatment and symptoms for the heart electrical system blockage vary depending on the stage and type.


AV block diagnosis involves a medical history, physical examination and diagnostic tests. Some of the tests that a doctor can perform to diagnose AV block are:




Here are some treatment and management procedures used for

atrioventricular block prevention:



  • Observation

    Observation: in some cases, the patient may only need to go through regular check-ups if the AV block is mild to ensure that the condition remains stable.

  • Medications

    Medications: Such as atropine, isoproterenol, or other medicines that improve the heart's electrical condition may be used to treat more extreme cases of AV block.

  • Pacemaker

    Pacemaker: A pacemaker is a small device implanted under the chest's skin to help control the regular heartbeat when the natural conduction system is not functioning correctly.

  • Treating underlying conditions

    Treating underlying conditions: Underlying conditions can cause developing
    AV block conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or medication
    side effects, so they need to be treated to manage the blockage.

  • Lifestyle modifications

    Lifestyle modifications: Healthy lifestyles such as regular exercise, healthy
    food, and no tobacco, and alcohol consumption can help keep the heart
    healthy and fit and reduce the risk of developing any heart condition and also
    complications related to AV block. 
    AV block treatment may vary depending on the patient's medical history and symptoms.

Road to Recovery and Aftercare

The road to recovery and aftercare for AV block depends on the seriousness of the

condition. Here are some tips for recovery and aftercare:

  • Follow the treatment plan: Following a treatment plan prescribed ..

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