Heart Problem: What Are The Warning Signs Of A Heart Block
- 02 Aug 2018
- #Heart Block
- #Heart Disease
- #Heart Failure
- #Heart Institute
A heart block causes the heart to beat irregularly or more slowly than normal, potentially stopping for up to 20 seconds at a time.
This is caused by a delay, obstruction or disruption along the pathway of the electrical impulses that travel to the heart, sometimes resulting from an injury or damage to the heart muscle or heart valves.
A heart block, unlike coronary heart disease, doesn’t affect the heart’s blood vessels. It does not usually require treatment, but could be related to underlying health conditions.
A healthy human heart beats at about 60 to 100 times per minute. A single heartbeat is one contraction of the heart muscles, which pumps blood around the body.
Normally, every heartbeat is created by an electrical signal that starts in the heart’s upper right chamber (right atrium).
Heart block typically causes lightheadedness, fainting, and palpitations. In severe cases, a heart block can cause heart failure. In the case of a sudden cardiac arrest, a heart block can also cause chest pain. Coronary heart disease, on the other hand, results when there is plaque build-up on the coronary arteries. This can cause angina (chest pain) or myocardial infarction (heart attack).
A heart block can be present right from birth (congenital), but most often heart blocks develop after birth. In general, the risk of acquired heart block increases with age, along with the incidence of heart disease. Keeping this in mind, heart blocks can be categorized into three types:
First-degree heart block is common among athletes, adolescents, young adults, and people with a highly active vagus nerve. People with a variety of heart diseases including coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease or other structural heart disorders, are also at risk for developing a first-degree heart block.
In the case of an acquired heart block, the following conditions increase the risk:
Abnormal heart rhythm is a change in either the speed or the pattern of the heartbeat. It may beat too slowly (bradycardias), too fast (tachycardias) or irregularly. Some abnormal heart rhythms occur in one of the atriums and are called atrial, others occur in the ventricles and are called ventricular. If a person has a heart block, they may experience the following symptoms:
Most cases of heart block respond well to timely intervention. Depending on your age and medical history, a heart specialist or cardiologist will be able to diagnose your symptoms with an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram or an electrophysiology test.
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