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Pacemaker

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A pacemaker is a tiny mechanical device that carries out a very important function. It helps the heart beat regularly and properly. The following article will discuss important facts related to the pacemaker.

What is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a tiny electronic device that is commonly used to treat bradycardia. This device helps restoring the normal heart rhythm. The pacemaker sends electrical impulses that stabilize the heart rhythm.

People suffering from bradycardia, develop a slow or irregular heartbeat. This causes the heart to beat less than 60 beats/min. Thus, affecting the blood circulation and the body receives less oxygen-rich blood during exercising or any strenuous activity. The affected person thus, feels dizzy, shortness of breath, faints and even complain of lack of energy. The pacemaker helps the heart beat at the right pace and allows blood to be pumped to the brain and other body parts. The pacemaker is also used in cases where the person suffers from congestive heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as well as syncope (fainting spells).

Types of Pacemaker

The pacemaker is a battery-operated device that sends weak electrical impulses in the heart. There are different types of pacemakers that are implanted based on one’s condition. The doctor determines the lowest heart rate, that is, the minimum rate of your heartbeat drop. Based on this the doctor sets the rate on the pacemaker. The minute the heart rate drops, the pacemaker will fire an impulse that passes through the connected lead in the heart muscle. The impulse will help the heart muscles to contract and result in heartbeats.

Single-chamber pacemaker

This pacemaker is placed in the atrium or ventricle. It uses one lead in the upper or the lower chamber of the heart.

Dual-chamber pacemaker

There are two leads connected to the heart muscles through this pacemaker. One lead is placed in the right atrium and one lead in the ventricle.

Biventricular Pacemaker

This has three wires, where one wire is placed in the right atrium and one each on the right and left ventricle. This is a very complicated pacemaker and requires longer surgery time during implantation.

What is the Pacemaker Made of?

The pacemaker is made of two parts. The first part consists of the electrodes with wires at the tip of the device. These electrodes transmit electrical signals to the heart muscles. The pacemaker is the smallest unit with a computer. It helps generates the electrical signal that helps the heart muscles contract and pump blood.

Where is a Pacemaker Placed?

The pacemaker is placed under the skin of the chest. It is located just under the collarbone, connected to the heart with the help of tiny wires.

How if the Implantation Procedure Performed?

Implantation of the pacemaker is a very safe procedure this is an invasive procedure with certain risks involved. The doctor will discuss some of the details regarding the procedure with you before the surgery.

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Before the Procedure

Those who are taking aspirin or warfarin may have  to stop taking the medications a few days before the surgery. Those with diabetes may have to adjust their insulin or diabetes medications.

The evening before the surgery one can have a full meal. After that one cannot drink, chew or drink anything till the procedure. Remove any jewelry, watches and valuables.

During the Procedure

You will be made ready before the procedure. The nurse will give you appropriate dress to wear for the surgery. You will be put on an intravenous line to help deliver medications and fluids during the procedure.

You will be given medications that will make you drowsy, yet remain awake during the procedure. A defibrillator/pacemaker will be placed in the center of the back and chest to keep a check on the heart rate. Electrocardiogram, blood pressure monitor as well as an oximeter monitor will be attached to you.

The pacemaker will be implanted endocardially or epicardially.

Endocardial Lead Positioning

This is the common method of implanting a pacemaker. You will be given local anesthesia. A catheter will be inserted into the blood vessel with the help of a fluoroscope. It will be guided towards the heart. And once it reaches the heart, the leads will be attached to the internal heart lining. You will be asked to take deep breaths and cough to test if the leads will are placed correctly. Then, they will be attached to the pacemaker. This pacemaker will be gently eased under the skin of the upper chest or abdomen region.

Epicardial Lead Positioning

In this procedure, a large incision is made in the chest. Thus, one will be put under general anesthesia. The leads will be directly placed on the epicardium and the pacemaker placed directly under the skin in the upper abdomen region.

After the Procedure

The procedure lasts for about 2 to 5 hours. After that, you will be taken to the recovery room. One may feel a little soreness at the sight of implantation. You will be hospitalized for a day or more. After going home, one should keep an eye on the stitches. Any pain, redness, bleeding or swelling should be reported to the doctor immediately.

One can bathe, carry out regular activities as well as having intercourse, after implantation of a pacemaker. Just avoid sudden movements, stretching, reaching over the head or touching the pacemaker for a few days.

Household appliances like microwave, TV, refrigerator, air conditioners, etc. do not interfere with the pacemaker. One should avoid keeping the cell phone in the pocket near the pacemaker. Use the opposite ear when using the cell phone. When walking through the electronic theft detector in shopping malls, etc. Ask for hand checking at the airport and avoid walking through the metal detectors.

A pacemaker is a very useful device that helps people with heart conditions live a healthy, active and full life.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 16, 2015