Heart block is a type of arrhythmia (ah-RITH-me-ah). An arrhythmia is any problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.
The three types of heart block are first degree, second degree, and third degree. First degree is the least severe, and third degree is the most severe. This is true for both congenital and acquired heart block.
Doctors use a test called an EKG (electrocardiogram) to help diagnose heart block. This test detects and records the heart's electrical activity. It records the data on a graph for the doctor to review.
A medical device called a pacemaker is used to treat third-degree heart block and some cases of second-degree heart block. This device uses electrical pulses to stimulate the heart to beat at a normal rate. Pacemakers typically are not used to treat first-degree heart block.
All types of heart block may increase your risk for other arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (A-tre-al fi-bri-LA-shun). Talk with your doctor to learn more about the signs and symptoms of arrhythmias.