Diseases related to heart have become quite common today, heart block is one such serious concern that needs to be treated well. This article explains what is heart block and discusses about the first degree heart block.
What is first degree heart block
Heart block is the diseased state of heart, when the electrical signals that control a person's heartbeat are either slowed down or blocked while travelling through their heart. This can hamper the normal functioning of heart and lead to several complications.
Stages of heart block
It is classified into three stages:
- The first degree heart block,
- The second degree heart block, and
- The third degree heart block. The first degree heart block is quite common and less severe, while the third degree heart block is most dangerous and can lead to complete heart block. It is also termed as first degree AV block, since the atrioventricular(AV) electrical conduction system of the heart is affected.
Why does it happen?
Heart block can be congenital or acquired, mainly because of old age or some kind of heart disease. There are many factors that lead to atrioventricular block. - In case of congenital heart block, it happens when the baby grows inside a pregnant mother having auto-immune diseases, developing unwanted proteins to damage the tissues and cells of the baby's heart. Congenital heart block is closely related to genetic mutations. - Damage caused to the heart because of various diseases like inflammation of heart muscles, stroke or failure. - Effects of other serious diseases like degenerative muscle disorders, rheumatic fever and sarcoidosis. - Some kinds of surgeries damage the heart's electrical conduction system, leading to heart block. Moreover, exposure to few toxic chemicals and drugs can cause atrioventricular heart blockage.
Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
The common symptoms of first degree heart block are feeling of dizziness and light-headedness, accompanied by chest pain, breathlessness, palpitations(abnormal heartbeat), fainting and seizures caused because of lack of oxygen supply to the brain. In the first degree heart block, the diseased atrioventricular node conducts the electrical activity more slowly than normal. This can be diagnosed with an ECG, seen as a PR(atrial-ventricular depolarization) interval greater than 200 ms in length, where your heart beat falls to less than 40 beats per minute. The first-degree heart block is not severe, and can be healed by taking necessary measures, to improve your health state and/or reviewing the medicinal treatment that you are already taking. However, you must make sure that it does not grow and lead to second degree heart block and third degree heart block, which can endanger your life. So, do not hesitate to consult your doctor, whenever you experience any related symptoms.