A pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. This device uses low-energy electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate. Pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.
A pacemaker helps monitor and control your heartbeat. The electrodes detect your heart’s electrical activity and send data through the wires to the computer in the generator. If your heart rhythm is abnormal, the computer will direct the generator to send electrical pulses to your heart.
A local anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) is given to numb the area. An incision is made in the chest where the leads and pacemaker are inserted. The lead(s) is inserted through the incision and into a vein, then guided to the heart with the aid of the fluoroscopy machine.
Inserting a pacemaker or defibrillator takes about 3 hours. If the doctor only has to change the generator battery, the procedure may only take 1 to 2 hours.
You’ll usually be able to do all the things you want to do after around four weeks. The time you need off work will depend on your job – your cardiologist will usually be able to advise you about this. Typically, people who’ve had a pacemaker fitted are advised to take three to seven days off.
Pacemaker batteries last between 5 and 15 years (average 6 to 7 years), depending on how active the pacemaker is. Your doctor will replace the generator along with the battery before the battery starts to run down.
Complications from having surgery to implant your pacemaker are uncommon, but could include: Infection where the pacemaker was implanted. Allergic reaction to the dye or anesthesia used during your procedure. Swelling, bruising or bleeding at the generator site, especially if you are taking blood thinners.
By regulating the heart’s rhythm, a pacemaker can often eliminate the symptoms of bradycardia. This means individuals often have more energy and less shortness of breath. However, a pacemaker is not a cure. It will not prevent or stop heart disease, nor will it prevent heart attacks.
A pacemaker won’t limit you from most forms of exercise, but you should avoid contact sports. Taking hits or falling can dislodge your pacemaker or shift the wires in your heart. Rhythmic activities like walking, running, cycling or swimming are much safer.
Dr Blessan Varghese is a renowned interventional cardiologist with an experience of 10 years with expertise in diagnostic coronary angiography both radial & femoral route, Primary Angioplasty, Complex Angioplasty, cardiac catheterization, renal angiography & Pacemaker Implantation and Device therapy for ASD, PDA, and many more interventional procedures. Currently, he serves as Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Welcare Hospital, Kochi and is the chief of inerventional cardiology.read more