How We Diagnose & Treat Heart Block
Electrophysiologists (EPs) are the doctors who diagnose and treat arrhythmias like heart block.
In pregnancy, we diagnose heart block with a fetal echocardiogram. We work to support the baby until delivery. The most common reason for a fetal heart block is if the mother has an autoimmune disorder like lupus or Sjögren’s (SHOW-grins).
In older children, we can often diagnose with an electrocardiogram, or EKG. This is a simple procedure that gathers electrical information about the heart.
Sometimes the electrical problem is intermittent. It may not show up on an EKG if the heart is behaving normally during the test. This is why we have children wear a Holter monitor, which monitors their heart throughout the day.
Sometimes we can reverse a heart block if it’s related to medications or another temporary situation.
For non-reversible heart block, the most effective treatment is to implant a pacemaker. In our EP program, we wait until children are big enough before we consider doing this procedure. We only use this treatment if the heart block is life-threatening or causing severe symptoms.