3rd-Degree Atrioventricular Block

Patrick Meloy, Dan Rutz, Amit Bhambri
2022 Journal of Education and Teaching in Emergency Medicine  
Audience: This oral boards case is appropriate for emergency medicine residents and medical students on emergency medicine rotations Introduction/Background: Third-degree heart block (also known as complete heart block) is a cardiovascular emergency that requires prompt recognition. Complete heart block is a type of atrioventricular (AV) block whereby no atrial impulses reach the ventricular conduction system. The most common etiology of AV block is ischemic heart disease, with up to 1 in 5
more » ... ents developing some type of conduction disturbance after an MI. 1 Complete heart block is seen in 8% of patients post-MI. 2 Other causes include myocarditis, infectious endocarditis, infiltrative cardiac disease, congenital AV blocks, nonischemic cardiomyopathy, electrolyte disturbances, and drug side effects. 3 In complete heart block, the heart rate is dependent on the location of the block and a functioning secondary pacemaker within the conduction system. Analysis of the EKG will determine the location of this escape rhythm. For escape rhythms originating at the AV node or high in the His-Purkinje system, the QRS complex will typically be narrow, and the ventricular rate typically in the 40-60 bpm range. For blocks with ventricular escape rhythms, the QRS will appear wide, with rates of 20-40 bpm. Patients presenting with 3rd-degree AVB with ventricular escape rhythms can destabilize. If no escape rhythm generates, patients develop asystole and cardiac arrest. Since 1 in 600 adults over the age of 65 will develop a form of supraventricular conduction abnormality each year, this disease process is important to identify and treat. 4 Effective management includes accurate interpretation of a 12-lead EKG, assessment of hemodynamic stability and systemic perfusion, and time-sensitive pharmacologic or procedural intervention. Educational Objectives: At the end of this oral board session, examinees will: 1) demonstrate ability to obtain a complete medical history including detailed cardiac history, 2) demonstrate the ability to perform a detailed physical examination in a patient with cardiac complaints, 3) investigate the broad differential diagnoses which include acute coronary syndrome (ACS), electrolyte imbalances, pulmonary embolism,
doi:10.5070/m57257171 fatcat:m75ocg3rmzc5nex7j3kyct46em