This rhythm review is part of a comprehensive ACLS training course. After completing the full course, you will participate in real codes with confidence, and you will ace the AHA ACLS provider course. Register HERE to take the full course.
Also called first-degree AV block is a disease of the electrical conduction system of the heart in which the PR interval is lengthened beyond 0.20 seconds.
This lengthening of the PR interval is caused by a delay in the electrical impulse from the atria to the ventricles through the AV node
Normally and in the case of ACLS, first-degree heart block is of no consequence unless it involves myocardial infarction or an electrolyte imbalance.
Although first-degree heart block is not clinically significant for ACLS, recognition of the major AV blocks is important because treatment decisions are based on the type of block present.
There are a number of disorders that can cause first-degree AV block, but it may be a normal variant in the conduction system of the heart. Some of the most common causes are listed below:
Causes of First degree AV block:
- Increased vagal tone (well trained athlete)
- Electrolyte disturbances
- Myocarditis caused by infections
- hypoxemia (see more in infants and children)
- Cardiac surgery
- Congenital abnormalities (see more in infants and children)
- Myocardial infarction
- Medications that inhibit AV node conduction (amiodarone, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, digoxin)
- Acute rheumatic fever (see more in infants and children)
Below is a short video which will help you quickly identify first-degree AV block on a monitor. Please allow several seconds for the video to load. (3.40 mb)
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