Everyone’s heart has a natural pacemaker that works to coordinate the rhythms and contractions of the heart. Sometimes that natural pacemaker stops working properly, which can cause an abnormal heart rate or rhythm that’s too slow, too fast or simply irregular.
We can help. With a permanent pacemaker implantation, we can help correct the heart’s deficiency and restore your heartbeat healthy rate.
What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is really just a tiny computer placed under the skin, near the heart, to control and regulate the heartbeat. The pacemaker senses and registers the body’s natural heartbeat and makes corrections when necessary to maintain normal heart function.
People usually require a pacemaker when they have been diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm, also called an arrhythmia. If a heart beats too slowly, quickly or erratically, blood flow to the body and brain may be affected. This can have noticeable and sometimes serious consequences, including:
- Fainting/loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Heart failure
As we get older, our hearts pump less effectively, which could also lead to an abnormal heart rhythm. Other factors that may cause arrhythmias are congenital heart abnormalities (a condition you are born with), a family history of heart disease and side effects of certain medications.
How is the permanent pacemaker implanted?
We use minimally invasive techniques to implant permanent pacemakers whenever possible. This means a minor surgical procedure done without full anesthesia. The procedure follows a few basic steps.
Conscious sedation: Patients are typically awake during the procedure and given a local anesthesia to numb the incision site. Additionally, sedation medication can be given to help patients relax during the procedure.
Incision and device placement: After a nurse begins an IV for medications and fluids (if necessary), a small incision will be made at the point of insertion. The pacemaker is then guided near the heart using X-ray imaging. The pacemaker is most often placed below the collarbone on the left side.
Lead placement: The pacemaker also features leads (flexible, insulated wires) inserted into the heart through a blood vessel. These wires are the channels that carry vital information signals from your heart to the pacemaker as well as electrical pulses (generated from the pacemaker) back to the heart. The wires are attached to the pacemaker’s generator — a small, titanium container that houses the device’s electrical circuitry.
Testing and completion: After the initial insertion is complete and the leads placed, your doctor will conduct tests to ensure the pacemaker is properly positioned and functioning well.
After the pacemaker implantation
While it’s unlikely that a pacemaker would discontinue working due to an electrical interference, it’s wise to be aware of, and take a few easy precautions.
No cellphones: Avoid placing a turned on cell phone directly over your pacemaker. Although highly unlikely, your pacemaker may misinterpret the cellphone signal as an actual heartbeat.
Airport metal detectors: Passing through an airport metal detector will not interfere with a pacemaker, though the metal in the pacemaker may sound off the alarm. If airport security insists on using a hand-held metal detector, ask that it not be held near your pacemaker longer than necessary.
Personal space: Keep a couple feet between you and welding equipment, high-voltage transformers and motor-generator systems. If you work around this type of equipment, your doctor can arrange a workplace test to determine if it has a direct effect on your pacemaker.
ID cards: Always carry your pacemaker ID card in your wallet. Your identification card includes information from the manufacturer about your specific pacemaker model. Always present this card when being examined by a health care professional or when going through airport security.
Monitor your device: The effectiveness of your pacemaker should be checked every few months. This is easily done by telephone. Simply connect to a phone line with either a wand placed over the pacemaker or a transmitter attached to wristbands. Once connected, your device sends information to your doctor’s office, where a technician will check your heart rate and rhythm as well as evaluate your pacemaker’s function and battery life.
Our electrophysiology locations
If you need a permanent pacemaker, a minimally invasive implantation may work for you. Call the location nearest you to schedule a consultation or appointment: