Each individual heartbeat is actually a collection of several muscle movements spurred into action by electrical impulses. A problem at any point in the electrical pathway can bring havoc with the regular beating of a heart.
An artificial pacemaker, a small battery operated device can take over the role of the heart’s own electrical system.
Primary function of a pacemaker is to control the heart beat; it is used in people who are prone to have an arrhythmic heart beat. Most modern pacemakers usually have multiple functions. A pacemaker may also be used to treat fainting spells (syncope), congestive heart failure, and rarely hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
A pacemaker is a small device that is implanted into a patient’s chest. The function of a pacemaker is to use low-energy electrical pulses to copy the heart’s own electrical signaling. Pacemakers can speed up a slow heart rhythm. They can also control a fast or an irregular heart rhythm.
Pacemakers also coordinate the electrical signaling of the heart between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. They can coordinate electrical signaling between the ventricles to prevent heart failure.
• Bradycardia : A condition in which the heart beats too slowly, causing symptoms such as fatigue or dizziness. Bradycardia may be caused by age or by conditions such as sick sinus syndrome or heart block.
• Atrial fibrillation : A common heart rhythm disorder in which the upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly. Sometimes people with atrial fibrillation can also have slow rhythms.
• Heart failure: A condition in which the heartbeat is not sufficient to supply a normal volume of blood and oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. A pacemaker can be carefully programmed to increase the force of muscle contractions in the heart.
• Syncope: A condition known as the common faint, is usually not serious. Some patients faint when their heart rhythm becomes very slow. A pacemaker may prevent the heart rate from slowing to the point of fainting.
The surgeon will make a small incision near the shoulder. Through the incision, he or she will guide a small wire into a major vein near your collarbone. Then the surgeon will lead the wire through the vein to your heart. An X-ray machine will guide the surgeon through this process.
Using the wire the surgeon will attach an electrode to the heart’s right ventricle. The other end of the wire is attached to a pulse generator. This contains the battery and electrical circuits. The generator is typically implanted under the skin near the collarbone.
This procedure is done under local anesthetic to numb the incision site.One can expect to stay in the hospital overnight. After the procedure, doctor will make sure the pacemaker is programmed for the heart’s needs. The device can be reprogrammed.
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