Symptoms of heart blockage include fainting, light-headedness, fatigue and chest pain, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. First-degree heart block may not cause symptoms and is common in highly trained athletes.
In heart block, the electrical signals that move down to the heart and control the heartbeats are blocked from reaching the lower chambers, or the ventricles. This blockage creates abnormal heart rhythms in which the heart beats faster or slower than normal, a condition referred to as arrhythmia. Patients with second-degree heart block have irregular heartbeats that are slower because not all of the electrical signals reach the ventricles, states Cleveland Clinic. Patients with third-degree heart block have no electrical signals reaching the ventricles, so the heart's pacemaker has to produce the signals but at a slower pace.
Heart block can be congenital or it can develop later on with age. Heart conditions, including heart attack, heart disease and heart failure, can contribute to the development of heart block. A cardiologist conducts various tests, including ECG and electrophysiology studies, to diagnose heart block. Third-degree heart block requires treatment, but first-degree and second-degree heart block may not require treatment especially if the patient does not experience symptoms. Pacemakers and defibrillator implants are used to treat heart block, such as second-degree heart block with symptoms, notes Cleveland Clinic.
People with heart blockage can reduce their risks by making lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthy diet that is low in salt, sugar and trans fats, notes WebMD. Regular exercise can help to keep the heart healthy, too. Patients with symptoms should consult with a medical professional to determine treatment options and assess the condition of the heart. In many cases, medications to manage the disease can be administered.