What is first-degree atrioventricular (AV) block?

Updated: Jan 06, 2020
  • Author: Jamshid Alaeddini, MD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jose M Dizon, MD  more...
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First-degree atrioventricular (AV) block, or first-degree heart block, is defined as prolongation of the PR interval on an electrocardiogram (ECG) to more than 200 msec. [1, 2] The PR interval of the surface ECG is measured from the onset of atrial depolarization (P wave) to the beginning of ventricular depolarization (QRS complex). Normally, this interval should be between 120 and 200 msec in the adult population. First-degree AV block is considered “marked” when the PR interval exceeds 300 msec [2, 3] ; the P waves may be buried in the preceding T wave. [2]

Whereas conduction is slowed, there are no missed beats. [2] In first-degree AV block, every atrial impulse is transmitted to the ventricles, resulting in a regular ventricular rate. [2]

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