What is a second-degree heart block?

A second-degree heart block is an irregular form of arrhythmia. It occurs once the electrical impulses which instruct the heart when to beat does not always go through the top and bottom heart chambers.

There are 2 types of second-degree heart block.

  • Many individuals with the type 1 heart block do not have any symptoms and treatment is not needed. The heart skips beat in a regular pattern. The body is capable of coping with this, thus there are no symptoms.
  • For the type 2 heart block, it is considered serious and treatment might be needed. The heart skips beat in an erratic pattern in which the body could not compensate, thus resulting to dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting.
    Second-degree heart block

    Many individuals with second-degree heart block has an underlying heart condition such as cardiomyopathy, coronary heart disease or congenital heart disease.

If an individual has a second-degree heart block, the electrical impulses oftentimes fail to reach the lower heart chambers. This causes the heart to skip beats, thus affecting the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body and the brain.

What are the possible causes?

Many individuals with second-degree heart block has an underlying heart condition such as cardiomyopathy, coronary heart disease or congenital heart disease.

It can also be triggered by the aging of the electrical pathways in the heart, certain medications and electrolyte imbalance.

Management

The doctor will recommend an ECG to diagnose a second-degree heart block. Among adults, a second-degree heart block that causes a very slow heart rate might require the placement of a pacemaker.

If the heart block was triggered by a heart attack, a temporary pacemaker might be needed. If the normal rhythm of the heart has not returned a few weeks after the heart attack, the doctor might suggest a permanent pacemaker. Among young individuals who have congenital heart diseases but does not have a slow heart rate or other symptoms, a pacemaker is not usually required.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on second-degree heart block is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize circulatory issues including second-degree heart block by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.

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