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How Is Heart Block Treated?

Treatment depends on the type of heart block you have. If you have first-degree heart block, you may not need treatment.

If you have second-degree heart block, you may need a pacemaker. A pacemaker is a small device that's placed under the skin of your chest or abdomen. This device uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.

If you have third-degree heart block, you will need a pacemaker. In an emergency, a temporary pacemaker might be used until you can get a long-term device. Most people who have third-degree heart block need pacemakers for the rest of their lives.

Some people who have third-degree congenital heart block don't need pacemakers for many years. Others may need pacemakers at a young age or during infancy.

If a pregnant woman has an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, her fetus is at risk for heart block. If heart block is detected in a fetus, the mother might be given medicine to reduce the fetus' risk of developing serious heart block.

Sometimes acquired heart block goes away if the factor causing it is treated or resolved. For example, heart block that occurs after a heart attack or surgery may go away during recovery.

Also, if a medicine is causing heart block, the condition may go away if the medicine is stopped or the dosage is lowered. (Always talk with your doctor before you change the way you take your medicines.)

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Heart Block Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Heart Block, visit

Know the Facts and Act Fast!

Collage image of new heart attack materials

When a heart attack happens, any delays in treatment can be deadly. 

Knowing the warning symptoms of a heart attack and how to take action can save your life or someone else’s.

The NHLBI has created a new series of informative, easy-to-read heart attack materials to help the public better understand the facts about heart attacks and how to act fast to save a life.

Click the links to download or order the NHLBI's new heart attack materials:

“Don’t Take a Chance With a Heart Attack: Know the Facts and Act Fast” (also available in Spanish)

“Heart Attack: Know the Symptoms. Take Action.”

“Learn What a Heart Attack Feels Like—It Could Save Your Life”

July 09, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.