n Cardiovascular Journal of Africa - Follow up in a developing country of patients with complete atrio-ventricular block : cardiovascular topic

Volume 23, Issue 10
  • ISSN : 1995-1892
  • E-ISSN: 1680-0745


The purpose of the study was to assess the incidence and survival rate of patients with complete atrio-ventricular block in the cardiac centre of St Elizabeth Catholic General Hospital, Kumbo, Cameroon.

Between 2009 and 2011, 26 patients with complete atrio-ventricular block were diagnosed at our institution. Complete atrio-ventricular block was defined as complete heart block, diagnosed by echocardiographic or electrocardiographic documentation of the dissociation between electrical activity of the atria and ventricles. Hospital charts, electrocardiograms (ECG), echocardiography and chest radiography were reviewed.
The triad of symptoms that pointed to the diagnosis of complete atrio-ventricular block was mainly fatigue, shortness of breath on mild physical exertion, and dizziness. The median age at diagnosis was 65 ± 15 years. The escape rhythm showed a narrow QRS complex in 35.2% of patients, whereas wide QRS complexes were seen in 64.8%. In only 15 patients were pacemakers implanted: dual-chamber in 10 and single-chamber in five cases, depending on the availability of the pacemakers. During the observational period, five non-implanted patients died, giving a mortality rate of 45%. We recorded no deaths in patients with pacemakers.
In developing countries, natural selection is observed in patients with complete atrio-ventricular block. Lack of infrastructure and early detection, and financial limitations are the main problems faced in the follow up of these patients. Re-organisation of the public health system, new programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, and government subsidisation are needed in our milieu.

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