WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Heart block is also called an atrioventricular (a-tre-o-ven-TRIK-u-ler) or AV block. Heart block occurs when there is a problem in the way the electrical signals of the heart flow. The flow of electrical signal controls the way the heart pumps out blood. Normally, the signals come from the atrium (upper chamber of the heart) then pass through to the ventricle (lower chamber of the heart). The electrical signals spread to the ventricles causing the muscles to pump blood. With heart block, there is a delay or interruption in the flow of electrical signals.
- The most common cause is scar tissue formed on the path of the electrical signals. Heart block may result from previous heart conditions including myocardial ischemia (decreased blood supply to the heart), infections, tumors, or surgery. Certain heart medicines may also cause heart block. Heart block may also be a condition you are born with.
- Signs and symptoms depend on the severity of heart block. Sometimes you may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of dizziness, fainting, confusion, or tiredness may occur if the heart block is partial or complete. Diagnosis may include ambulatory monitoring, stress test, echocardiogram, or EKG. Treatment includes certain heart medicines, and pacemakers or implanted cardioverter devices in severe cases.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
For support and more information:
Having a heart block may be a life-changing disease for you and your family. Accepting that you have a heart block may be hard. You and those close to you may feel sad, worried, or frightened. These feelings are normal. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. You may also want to join a support group with other people who have heart block. Call or write the following organizations for more information:
- American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas , TX 75231-4596
Phone: 1- 800 - 242-8721
Web Address: http://www.heart.org
- Heart Rhythm Society
1400 K Street NW, Ste 500
Washington , DC 20005
Phone: 1- 202 - 464-3400
Web Address: www.hrsonline.org
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You are sad or anxious and you find it hard to do your normal activities.
- You had a fainting spell.
- You have increased pounding or thumping of heartbeat.
- You have questions about your heart block, medicines, or treatments.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:Call 911 or an ambulance if you have any signs of a heart attack:
- Discomfort in the center of your chest that feels like squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain, that lasts for more than a few minutes or keeps returning
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or one or both of your arms
- Feeling sick to your stomach
- Having trouble breathing
- A sudden cold sweat, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
- Feeling very lightheaded or dizzy, particularly in combination with chest discomfort or trouble breathing
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.