Heart block is a condition where the heart beats more slowly or with an abnormal rhythm. It's caused by a problem with the electrical pulses that control how your heart beats.

In this article, we talk about atrioventricular (AV) heart block.

Symptoms depend on how severe your heart block is. The least serious is 1st-degree heart block, which may not cause any symptoms.

2nd-degree heart block sometimes causes troublesome symptoms that need treatment.

3rd-degree heart block is the most serious and can sometimes be a medical emergency.

According to NHS, all degrees of heart block can increase your risk of developing other heart rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation (an irregular and abnormally fast heart rate).

What are the symptoms of heart block?

According to Clevelandclinic, symptoms of heart block vary depending on the type of block.

First-degree heart block:

1. May not have any symptoms.

2. May be found during a routine electrocardiogram (ECG) although heart rate and rhythm are usually normal.

First-degree block is common in athletes, teenagers, young adults and those with a highly active vagus nerve.

Second-degree heart block symptoms:

1. Fainting, feeling dizzy.

2. Chest pain.

3. Feeling tired.

4. Shortness of breath.

5. Heart palpitations.

6. Rapid breathing.

7. Nausea.

Third-degree heart block symptoms:

1. Dizziness, fainting.

2. Chest pain.

3. Feeling tired.

4. Shortness of breath.

Symptoms of third-degree heart block are more intense due to the slow heart rate. If you have severe symptoms, get medical attention right away.

What causes heart block?

The most common cause of heart block is heart attack. Other causes include heart muscle disease, usually called a cardiomyopathy, heart valve diseases and problems with the heart’s structure. Heart block can also be caused by damage to the heart during open heart surgery, as a side effect of some medications or exposure to toxins. Genetics can be another cause.

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