How is heart block treated?
In some people, the heart block goes away when the underlying cause is removed (eg, making changes to medication) or treated (e.g., managing the patient’s heart disease).
The right treatment for heart block depends on the severity of the condition and whether it is associated with any symptoms. First-degree heart block usually does not require treatment. Second-degree heart block may not require treatment in patients who are highly trained athletes, but many patients do require treatment if they have symptoms. Third-degree heart block almost always requires treatment.
If you have symptomatic second-degree heart block, your cardiologist may recommend treatment with a pacemaker. A pacemaker is a credit card-sized device that is implanted just under the skin in the chest or abdomen during a procedure performed in the electrophysiology lab. The pacemaker uses electrical pulses to keep your heart beating normally. In 2009, Cleveland Clinic specialists performed more than 4,000 procedures in the electrophysiology lab, including more than 1,300 pacemaker and defibrillator implants.
Third-degree heart block is often first diagnosed as an emergency situation. In these patients, it is almost always necessary to implant a pacemaker, unless the problem can be reversed by stopping medications that may cause it.