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Open Access Open Badges Case report

Ventriculo-atrial gradient due to first degree atrio-ventricular block: a case report

Giuseppe Ando'* and Francesco Versaci

Author Affiliations

Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Department of Cardiac Surgery, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2005, 5:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-5-23

Published: 9 August 2005



Isolated, asymptomatic first degree AV block with narrow QRS has not prognostic significance and is not usually treated with pacemaker implantation. In some cases, yet, loss of AV synchrony because of a marked prolongation of the PR interval may cause important hemodynamic alterations, with subsequent symptoms of heart failure. Indeed, AV synchrony is crucial when atrial systole, the "atrial kick", contributes in a major way to left ventricular filling, as in case of reduced left ventricular compliance because of aging or concomitant structural heart disease.

Case presentation

We performed a trans-septal left atrium catheterization aimed at evaluating the entity of a mitral valve stenosis in a 72-year-old woman with a marked first-degree AV block, a known moderate aortic stenosis and NYHA class III symptoms of functional deterioration. We occurred in a deep alteration in cardiac hemodynamics consisting in an end-diastolic ventriculo-atrial gradient without any evidence of mitral stenosis. The patient had a substantial improvement in echocardiographic parameters and in her symptoms of heart failure after permanent pacemaker implantation with physiological AV delay.


We conclude that if a marked first degree AV block is associated to instrumental signs or symptoms of heart failure, the restoration of an optimal AV synchrony, achieved with dual-chamber pacing, may represent a reasonable therapeutic option leading to a consequent clinical improvement.