Usually an adult’s heart beat ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute depending on health and age of the person. But sometimes the heartbeat becomes irregular and starts to beat too slowly. If someone is suffering from slow heart rate, the heart is never able to circulate ample blood through the body. And when the rhythm speeds up, the heart chambers is never able to fill up enough blood.
When someone start suffering from fast, slow and irregular heartbeat, pacemaker helps normalize the heart rate. As a result, patient is able to lead a normal life doing all the activities a person can do normally.
What is a pacemaker and its contents?
Pacemaker is a system to set the heartbeat in correct order by sending electrical impulses and conduct them throughout the muscles of the heart, stimulating it to contract and pump blood. In a way it is a device that when planted inside the patient’s chest, allows the abnormal heart rate to beat normally again.
Pacemaker consists of a small titanium encased pulse generator that has a small lithium battery and electrical circuit attached to a few lead wires. It weighs about an ounce and is usually implanted on the left side of the chest below the collarbone. The procedure takes hardly an hour or so and the patient is sometimes relieved within a day.
Whenever the pacemaker picks up an abnormal electrical activity, it delivers a shock that brings back the heart beat into normal state.
How does it work?
The Pacemaker continuously monitors the heartbeat and delivers electrical energy if the heart starts beating too slowly. It also stores information about the heart that allows the doctor to evaluate and adjust pacemaker settings.
7 signs suggesting why you might require a pacemaker
- Dizziness or feeling lightheartedness even when you are inactive
- Shortness of breath or difficulty in catching breath
- Feeling of fatigue or extreme tiredness even when not doing any physical activity.
- Losing consciousness.
- Palpitation and pounding in the chest even when you are resting
- Suffering from chest pain
- In case diagnosed with bradycardia
What are the illness that requires pacemaker implant?
Bradycardia is an abnormally slow or irregular heartbeat, where the heart beat rate lowers to less than 60 beats per minute. As in such case the chambers of the heart don’t contract often enough to supply sufficient blood and when the body doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly, one may feel extremely tired and loss of consciousness.
Millions of people worldwide are living with pacemaker mostly to treat bradycardia
As one gets older scarring of the sinus node can occur and in some cases it is so severe that it causes this syndrome. Patients with this syndrome can suffer from slow or fast arrhythmias.
Treatment of sick sinus syndrome depends mostly on the symptoms.
In this syndrome too, the heart either beats too fast or too slow. This problem is mostly seen in patients who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. In this case a person is at high risk of losing consciousness or having a stroke.
Medicines may be also used in such cases but pacemaker may be included as a treatment.
These signs can also point to other diseases or problems like low blood pressure or other heart diseases also. Only the doctor can point out if your heart needs a pacemaker.
During the last few years use of pacemaker implants have increased to more than 60% in United States alone. After pacemaker implantation the patient starts to live an active and healthy life without the symptoms of tiredness or dizziness.
What does a pacemaker do and is there more than one type of pacemaker?
If someone’s heart is beating too slowly, the pacemaker helps it to speed up and beat at normal order. And in some cases where it beats faster, pacemaker slows it down to normal level.
There are various types of artificial pacemaker but all of them are used for the treatment of bradycardia. Some of them function continuously and stimulate the heart at a fixed rate or increased rate during physical activity.
Depending on the patient’s condition, one might be prescribed
- Single chamber pacemaker
- Dual Chamber Pacemaker
- Biventricular Pacemaker
How is the device implanted inside the chest of the patient?
- An incision of 2 to 3 inches is made under the collarbone and the pacemaker is inserted therein.
- The leads are inserted into the heart, once positioned they are attached to the pulse generator.
During the procedure, pain reliving medicines and sedatives are given to the patient. Afterwards follow up instructions are provided that the patient has to strictly follow through.
What are the things to avoid when you have pacemaker implantation?
- Cell phones should be kept some inches away and definitely not carried in breast pocket.
- Security systems or anything to do with powerful magnets can actually interfere with pacemakers
- One should also avoid getting an MRI and visit large magnetic fields like power generation sites and places where large magnets are used.
- Switch off the big motors of vehicles or boats while working on them.
- One should avoid high voltage radar machinery like television and radio transmitters, high tension wires etc.
- Protect yourself from shock to the pacemaker if you are involved in physical activity. Try not getting hurt where the pacemaker is inserted.
There are some risks involved too in pacemaker implant procedure. Such as:
- Developing infection
- Pacemaker might not work effectively due to electromagnetic interference
- There can be irritation or damage near the tissue and nerves
- Some do not easily accept the implant in their body and feel uncomfortable.
It is advisable to talk to your doctor prior to procedure to know the pros and cons of pacemaker implant.
How often should you visit the doctor after pacemaker implant?
A complete pacemaker check should be done six weeks after your pacemaker is implanted. This check is very important, because adjustments will be made that can prolong the life of your pacemaker. Regular follow up is important because when the battery function becomes low, it will become necessary to change the pacemaker.