The heart’s electrical system is pretty amazing. It’s our body’s built-in pacemaker—making sure the heart beats at a normal, even rate.
With each heartbeat, it sends signals to the heart muscle, telling it when to contract and pump blood to the brain and the rest of the body. When you have heart block, the signals between the heart’s chambers can be partially or totally blocked. As a result, the heart either does not beat regularly or your heart rate can drop to a dangerously low number of beats per minute. Heart block is different from blockages in the arteries of your heart (see coronary artery disease).
Some people are born with heart block (see congenital heart defects), while others develop it later in life. If you develop it as an adult, it’s usually due to damage to the heart muscle from certain diseases, surgery or medications. Symptoms can include fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath. Your symptoms and treatment will depend on the type of heart block you have.
Use this condition center to learn more about living with heart block. You can also read about the latest research, create a list of questions to ask your doctor and much more.