Heart Block

Heart block occurs when the normal electrical pulses that cause the heart to contract and pump blood around the body are disturbed. Usually other back-up systems take over so that the heart does not stop altogether, but the heart rate can become slow enough to compromise oxygen levels in some parts of the body.

There are 3 types of heart block, first-degree, second-degree and third-degree, classified according to the part of the electrical pathway has been affected. Investigation is by ECG and ambulatory ECG monitoring, and treatment may be with insertion of a pacemaker.

This is not to be confused with ‘bundle branch block’ which is a finding on the ECG. This may need more investigation but can be a normal finding in some people.