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Dawn's picture

ECG Basics: Sinus Rhythm With Complete AV Block and Ventricular Escape Rhythm

This rhythm strip shows a good example of complete (third-degree) AV block with ventricular escape rhythm.  It will be easy for your basic students to "march out" the P waves.  They are regular at a rate of about 88/min., and they are either visible, or are "hiding" in the QRS complex.  The ventricular rhythm is wide and very slow, and completely dissociated from the sinus rhythm.

For your more advanced students, you may want to discuss the likely origin or "level" of the block.  Blocks above the Bundle of His can have JUNCTIONAL escape rhythms, while blocks that occur below the Bundle of His generally have ventricular escape rhythms.  Ask your students which type of CHB they would prefer to have:  suprahisian or subhisian - and why?

Dawn's picture

Third-degree AV Block (Complete Heart Block)

This 84-year-old man called 911 because he felt dizzy and fell.  He was not injured in the fall, but the paramedics noted a slow pulse. He denied significant medical history. The initial ECG showed sinus rhythm at about 80 bpm and AV dissociation with an apparent acellerated idioventricular rhythm at about 40 bpm.  Less than one minute later, he has developed a complete heart block with an idioventricular escape rhythm less than 30 bpm.  The escape rhythm speeds slightly toward the end of the strip.  He retained stable vital signs and adequate perfusion during transport.  It is presumed that he was scheduled for an implanted pacemaker.  It is interesting to note the machine's interpretation, and it reminds us to always interpret the ECG ourselves.   Thanks to ECG Guru member, Sebmedic, for his contribution of this ECG. 

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