Heart Month awareness…Complete Heart Block

What is complete heart block?

Complete heart block is the most serious type of AV heart block. It happens when the electrical impulses that tell your heart when to beat don’t pass between the top (atria) and bottom chambers (ventricles) of your heart. This can affect the flow of blood to your body and brain.


What are the symptoms of complete heart block?

The symptoms of complete heart bock can include:

  • feeling faint or dizzy 
  • fatigued and sometimes with confusion 
  • feeling chest pressure or pain
  • being short of breath.

Sometimes there are no symptoms at all. If you experience severe or sudden symptoms, call 999 for an ambulance. 

What causes complete heart block?

Many people with complete heart block have an underlying heart condition like coronary heart diseasecardiomyopathy or congenital heart disease

Complete heart block can also be caused by:

  • ageing of the electrical pathways in your heart (meaning you’re more likely to get it if you’re older)
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • some medicines.

What are the tests and treatments for complete heart block?

An ECG or holter monitor will help to diagnose complete heart block, as these show the electrical rhythm of your heart.

  • If you’ve got complete heart block that causes a very slow heart rate and you’re having symptoms, it’s likely you’ll need to have a pacemaker fitted.
  • If you’ve got complete heart block that’s caused by a heart attack, you may only need a temporary pacemaker whilst you’re in hospital. If a normal heart rhythm hasn’t returned shortly after your heart attack, you might need to have a permanent pacemaker fitted.
  • If you have complete heart block due to medications or electrolyte imbalances you’ll be monitored closely in hospital and given treatment to reverse the medications and or correct electrolyte imbalances. 

Can complete heart block be cured?

Unless a patient has complete heart block due to medications, most patients who develop complete heart block will always need a pacemaker.


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