The heart has two upper chambers called atria and two lower chambers called ventricles. Electrical signals move through nerve bundles to the atria then to the ventricle. The heart pumps rhythmically when the electrical signals pass through as they should.
Heart block happens when the electrical activity of the heart does not travel in the normal way. The heart can still pump blood, but it beats much slower and less efficiently.
There are three types that range from mild to severe:
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This problem may be caused by:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Some children do not have symptoms. Others may have:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
The electrical activity of your child's heart may be tested. This can be done with an electrocardiogram (EKG).
Treatment will depend on the type of heart block your child has. A first-degree heart block may not need treatment.
A pacemaker may be needed for some children with second-degree heart block and all children with third-degree heart block. The pacemaker will send regular electrical signals to the heart. It will keep the heart beating in a more efficient rhythm.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
CardioSource—American College of Cardiology
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Atrioventricular (AV) conduction disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/atrioventricular-av-conduction-disorders. Accessed March 9, 2021.
Conduction disorders. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hb. Accessed March 9, 2021.
Heart block. Heart Rhythm Society website. Available at: http://www.hrsonline.org/Patient-Resources/Heart-Diseases-Disorders/Heart-Block. Accessed March 9, 2021.
Heart block. UCSF Benioff Childrens’ Hospital website. Available at: https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/heart_block. Accessed March 9, 2021.
Kusumoto FM, Schoenfeld MH, et al. 2018 ACC/AHA/HRS Guideline on the Evaluation and Management of Patients With Bradycardia and Cardiac Conduction Delay. Circulation. 2019 Aug 20;140(8):e382-e482.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 3/9/2021