The atrioventricular (AV) node is a small structure in the heart that plays a critical role in heart health. It is located in the right atrium, near the coronary sinus. The AV node is responsible for slowing down the electrical signal that originates in the sinoatrial (SA) node, which is the heart’s natural pacemaker. This allows the atria to have time to contract fully before the ventricles contract.
The AV node also helps to ensure that the ventricles contract in a coordinated manner. If the AV node is not functioning properly, it can lead to heart arrhythmias, such as bradycardia (slow heart rate) or tachycardia (fast heart rate).
The AV node is made up of specialized cardiac muscle cells that have a slower intrinsic heart rate than the SA node. This means that the AV node will only fire an electrical impulse if it receives an impulse from the SA node.
Functions of AV Node
The AV node has two main functions:
- To delay the electrical signal from the SA node, giving the atria time to contract fully before the ventricles contract.
- To ensure that the ventricles contract in a coordinated manner.
The AV node is a critical part of the heart’s electrical system. If the AV node is not functioning properly, it can lead to heart arrhythmias, which can be serious and even life-threatening.
Things that can Damage the AV Node
There are a number of things that can damage the AV node, including:
- Ischemic heart disease (heart attack)
- Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
- Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis)
- Trauma to the heart
- Certain medications
If you have any concerns about the health of your AV node, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate your risk factors and recommend ways to protect your heart health.
The AV node is a vital part of the heart’s electrical system. It helps to ensure that the heart beats at a regular rate and that the blood is pumped efficiently throughout the body.