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All about heart block first degree heart block second degree heart block third degree or complete heart block causes of heart block symptoms of heart block diagnosis of heart block treatments for heart block arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) {bundle branch block cardiac arrhythmia atrial fibrillation atrial flutter supraventricular tachycardia sick sinus syndrome ventricular arrhythmias ventricular tachycardia ventricular fibrillation heart block Brugada syndrome long QT syndrome short QT syndrome Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (WPW syndrome)}

How is heart block diagnosed?

Heart blocks can be diagnosed with a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the heart's electrical activity. Heart blocks have a certain pattern, which the ECG machine records. In some instances, a special test called an

electrophysiologic study (EPS) uses probes placed into the heart to measure the flow and direction of electricity. A test called a Holter monitor can also diagnose the problem.

Symptoms associated with heart block depend upon the severity of the conduction disturbance and range from a complete lack of symptoms to syncope (fainting) and life-threatening collapse. For patients with intermittent heart block, symptoms can be more subtle and the diagnosis therefore less straightforward. Symptoms might include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, activity intolerance and intermittent lightheadedness without syncope. The diagnosis can be straightforward if the AV block is persistent and/or symptoms present during an evaluation while ECG is being recorded. Frequently, however, both the symptoms and the conduction disturbance occur intermittently, and in these cases an ambulatory ECG monitor (e.g., Holter monitor) might assist in recording the heart rhythm at the time symptoms are experienced.

Invasive electrophysiologic testing, a type of cardiac catheterization, is an invasive technique during which the electrical system of the heart is examined with small electrical catheters, and is sometimes used to evaluate the conduction system in a patient with suspected heart block. A newly available device called an implantable loop recorder (ILR) is also sometimes used to assist in making the diagnosis in a patient with a suspected bradyarrhythmia who has escaped diagnosis by traditional means. It is a very small electronic device that rests under the skin of the chest, monitors the ECG continuously, and makes and stores recordings during detected episodes of abnormal heart rhythm.

More information on heart block

What is heart block? - Heart block is a disorder of the heartbeat. Heart block is common in elderly people as their hearts have undergone degenerative changes.
What's first degree heart block? - First-degree heart block, or first-degree AV block, is when the electrical impulse moves through the AV node more slowly than normal.
What's second degree heart block? - Second degree heart block is a disease of the electrical conduction system of the heart. There are two distinct types of second degree heart block.
What's third degree or complete heart block? - Third degree heart block, also known as complete heart block, is a disease of the electrical system of the heart.
What causes heart block? - Heart block has a variety of causes. It can sometimes be a result of a congenital defect. It can also occur after a heart attack or as a result of myocarditis.
What are the symptoms of heart block? - The main symptom associated with heart block is fainting (syncope). Second degree heart block may not cause symptoms.
How is heart block diagnosed? - Heart blocks can be diagnosed with a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the heart's electrical activity.
What're the treatments for heart block? - First-degree heart block requires no treatment even when it is caused by heart disease. A temporary pacemaker may be used in an emergency.
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Topics in heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary circulation disorders
Myocardium disorders
Heart valve disorders
Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
Heart inflammation and infection
Congenital heart disease
Valvular disease (blood vessels disorders)
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Devices used in cardiology
Diagnostic tests and procedures for heart diseases
Heart transplant

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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005