Mikey is a 22 year old male college student from Vermont who was sent to the emergency department after passing out.
His vital signs show a heart rate of 40 beats per minute and a blood pressure of 90/50. On examination, there is an erythematous circular rash with central clearing.
His friends mention they recently went on a hiking trip. His ECG is as follows.
Natasha is a 60 year old female with chronic hypertension, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease who comes to the emergency room complaining of sudden-onset, squeezing retrosternal chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating.
Her ECG is as follows. On laboratory evaluation, her troponin levels are significantly elevated.
Alright, so the normal electrical activity of the heart starts in the sinoatrial or SA node located near the opening of the superior vena cava into the right atrium.
Electrical activity is then conducted through the atrium to the atrioventricular, or AV node, after which it goes through the Bundle of His, then the right and left branches of the Bundle, and finally through the Purkinje fibers which deliver the current to the right and left ventricles.
Now, normally there is delay in conduction at the AV node and the Bundle of His, which gives some time for ventricular filling before the ventricle contracts.
A “heart block”, or AV block, occurs when conduction is delayed for too long at the AV node or the bundle of His. Also, electrical activity may be blocked at the level of the bundle branches, which are called bundle branch blocks.