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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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Updated: July 9, 2012