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The Heart Block Poem

‘The Heart Block Poem’ is a short, four-line poem that was written in order to help medical students and medical professionals remember the degrees of heart blocks.

The poem, which can be read in full below, uses medical terminology that most casual readers are not going to be familiar with. Despite this, the poem does provide readers with an opportunity to investigate an area of learning that they may not be aware of. Additionally, the poem is a helpful resource for those who need to remember this information in what could be a life or death situation.

The Heart Block Poem 

If the R is far from the P, then it must be a First Degree
If PR gets longer then a QRS drop, then it must be a Type I Wenckebach
If PR stays normal and QRS quits, then it must be a Type II Mobitz
If P and QRS beat independently, then it must be a complete Third Degree
The Heart Block Poem


What is a Heart Block? 

A heart block is a medical term used to describe what occurs when the electrical signals from the top chambers of the heart don’t conduct with the bottom chambers in a proper way. 

What Causes Heart Blocks? 

Heart blocks can be congenital, meaning that a person is born with the condition. Or, they may occur as one gets old and the wires in one’s heart develop fibrosis. Coronary artery disease is one of the most common causes. 

What are the Three Types of Heart Blocks?

There are three different levels of heart blocks that have, in order to make it easy for medical professionals to remember them, been combined into a short poem. The three degrees of heart blocks are: 

  • First Degree: the least severe and causes minimal problems. Signals slow down as they move through the heart. This type of heart block may not call for treatment. 
  • Second Degree: electrical signals between one’s atria and ventricles may fail to conduct. Within this degree, there are two different types: Mobitz type I and Mobitz type II. The first occurs when the electrical signals slow until one’s heart skips a beat. The latter occurs when sometimes the electrical signals get to the ventricles, but other times they don’t. This type of heart block often progresses to the third degree. 
  • Third Degree: the worst kind of heart block that can often be life-threatening. Electrical signals do not go from the atria to the ventricles at all. This results in a complete loss of one’s pulse or a very slow pulse. 


Meaning of the Heart Block Poem 

‘The Heart Block Poem’ is a short poem that’s used to remember the degrees of heart blocks. Most casual poetry readers will not know about the degrees of heart blocks, but this poem is quite effective for medical students and professionals who need a hand remembering the difference between first, second, and third-degree heart blocks. 

Literary Devices 

Throughout this poem, the author makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:

  • Internal Rhyme: occurs when a rhyme appears within the middle of a line. In the case of this poem, the poet connects an internal rhyme at the half way point and each line with the sound of the final word.
  • Caesura: pause in the middle of the line of verse. This can be seen and every line of this poem.
  • End Rhyme:  the most common type of rhyme. It occurs when the poet connects the same sound at the end of lines.
  • Repetition: occurs when the poet utilizes the same elements throughout a piece of poetry. In this case, the poet uses the same abbreviations, line links, and more.


Detailed Analysis 

Line One 

If the R is far from the P, then it must be a First Degree

As noted by Ezmedlearning, the first line of the ‘Heart Block Poem’ refers to the first degree of heart blocks. The “R is far from the P,” the line notes, refers to the PR interval. The PR interval is generally between 0.12 and 0.20 seconds. One that is longer than .20 seconds is considered a first-degree AV block.

Line Two 

If PR gets longer then a QRS drop, then it must be a Type I Wenckebach

The second line refers to a PR interval that gets longer over time until there is a QRS drop, meaning that the electrical impulse does not reach the ventricles. The line, like those around it, uses the same internal and end rhymes. This time, utilizing “drop” and “Wenckebach” in order to help students remember the second degree. 

Lines Three and Four 

If PR stays normal and QRS quits, then it must be a Type II Mobitz

If P and QRS beat independently, then it must be a complete Third Degree

The third line refers to a PR interval that remains constant, but the QRS drops at times. The atrial impulse is blocked intermittently and does not conduct to the ventricles. Here, the author used “quits” to rhyme with “Mobitz” and then “independently” to verse, partially, with “Third Degree.” 

The final degree describes when the P and QRS have no relationship. The electrical signals are completely blocked, and there is no communication between the atria and ventricles. 

Readers may also be interested in this even shorter and more condensed way of remembering the degrees of heart blocks:

First Degree = Far away P

Wenckebach = Longer then Drop

Second Degree = Drop Randomly

Third Degree = Beat Independently 


FAQs 

Who wrote the ‘Heart Block Poem?’ 

This popular medical poem has an unknown author. It has spread in popularity around the Internet among medical students working to remember the various types of heart blocks, but it is still unclear who originally created it.

What is the ‘Heart Block Poem’ about? 

The ‘Heart Block Poem’ is a short medical poem that is used by medical professionals and students in order to remember the various degrees of heart blocks.

How do you remember heart blocks?

One way that medical professionals remember heart blocks is through the heart block poem. The short piece of verse was created in order to help students remember what each type of condition can be categorized as and what to look out for.


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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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