What is a pacemaker? How is a heart pacemaker installed?
A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device that is implanted under the skin of the chest to help regulate the heartbeat. It is used to treat a variety of heart conditions, including bradycardia (a slow heart rate), heart block (a condition in which the electrical signals that control the heartbeat are disrupted), and certain types of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
The pacemaker works by sending electrical signals to the heart muscle, which help to regulate the heartbeat. The device consists of two parts: a pulse generator and one or more leads. The pulse generator contains the battery and the electronic circuitry that generates the electrical signals. The leads are thin, flexible wires that are inserted into the heart through a vein in the upper chest.
The pacemaker is implanted during a surgical procedure that is typically performed under local anesthesia. The procedure usually takes about an hour to complete and is done on an outpatient basis, which means that the patient can go home the same day.
Before the procedure, the patient is given a sedative to help them relax. The surgeon then makes a small incision in the upper chest and inserts the leads into the heart through a vein. The leads are guided to the appropriate location in the heart using X-ray imaging.
Once the leads are in place, the surgeon connects them to the pulse generator, which is implanted under the skin of the chest. The incision is then closed with sutures or surgical staples.
After the procedure, the patient is monitored for a short period of time to ensure that the pacemaker is functioning properly. They may experience some discomfort or soreness at the site of the incision, but this usually goes away within a few days.
The pacemaker is programmed by a cardiologist to deliver electrical signals to the heart at specific intervals. The settings can be adjusted as needed to ensure that the device is providing the appropriate level of support for the patient’s heart.
In addition to regulating the heartbeat, pacemakers can also provide other features, such as rate-responsive pacing, which adjusts the heart rate based on the patient’s activity level, and anti-tachycardia pacing, which helps to prevent dangerous arrhythmias.
Overall, pacemakers are a safe and effective treatment option for a variety of heart conditions. They can help to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of complications associated with certain heart conditions. If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart condition, talk to your doctor to see if a pacemaker may be right for you.