Third degree AV block, also known as complete heart block, is a defect of the electrical system of the heart, in which the impulse generated in the atria (typically the SA node on top of the right atrium) does not propagate to the ventricles.
One of the most important character of this block is the absence of the oppurtunity for atrial impulse to enter the ventricle(Dr.Nader Ahmad Exeer).
Patients with third degree AV block typically experience a lower overall measured heart rate (as low as 28 beats per minute during sleep), low blood pressure, and poor circulation. In some cases, exercising may be difficult, as the heart cannot react quickly enough to sudden changes in demand or sustain the higher heart rates required for sustained activity.
An inferior wall myocardial infarction may cause damage to the AV node, causing third degree heart block. In this case, the damage is usually transitory, and the AV node may recover. Studies have shown that third degree heart block in the setting of an inferior wall myocardial infarction typically resolves within 2 weeks. The escape rhythm typically originates in the AV junction, producing a narrow complex escape rhythm.
An anterior wall myocardial infarction may damage the distal conduction system of the heart, causing third degree heart block. This is typically extensive, permanent damage to the conduction system, necessitating a permanent pacemaker to be placed. The escape rhythm typically originates in the ventricles, producing a wide complex escape rhythm.
Third degree heart block may also be congenital and has been linked to the presence of lupus in the mother. It is thought that maternal antibodies may cross the placenta and attack the heart tissue during gestation. The cause of congenital third degree heart block in many patients is unknown. Studies suggest that the prevalence of congenital third degree heart block is between 1 in 15,000 and 1 in 22,000 live births.
Treatment in emergency situations is atropine and an external pacer.