When performed on patients suffering from heart failure or cardiac arrest, pacemaker treatment has been shown to significantly improve survival rates and overall quality of life. Understand the purpose of the pacemaker, how to be ready for surgery, potential risks and consequences, and the nature of regular follow-ups with your doctor before deciding to have one. This guide is meant to provide you with all of that data so that you can enter surgery with confidence and knowledge of the pacemaker procedure.
If you have a slow or irregular heartbeat that doesn’t respond to treatment, or if your heart suddenly stops beating, a pacemaker may be put. Ongoing medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol may also make it necessary for someone to get a pacemaker. Certain hereditary abnormalities may need its use as well. You and your doctor should decide when and what type of pacemaker is best for you.
Pacemakers are medical devices that are surgically installed in the chest, close to the heart. Electrical pulses are used to treat the arrhythmia by restoring normal cardiac rhythm and alleviating its accompanying symptoms. Your doctor or medical practitioner can set the device to alert you to certain arrhythmias and then either send a signal to the heart or pace it with electricity to restore normal rhythm. The most common type of pacemaker is an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).
When the heart’s normal rate and rhythm are disturbed, a pacemaker may be necessary. These disruptions can be caused by a number of factors, including ischemic heart disease or a lack of blood flow to the heart, cardiomyopathy, and other conditions. When the heart beats too slowly (bradycardia), it can cause fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, and weariness, all of which may require the implantation of a pacemaker. Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats that can be mitigated using a pacemaker. If medication for an irregular heartbeat is ineffective, a permanent pacing device may be implanted. When deciding whether or not to perform pacemaker insertion surgery, doctors will consider all relevant risk factors in the patient’s medical history.
The device is implanted under the collarbone, near the breastbone. This can be accomplished by either an open chest operation or a smaller incision. During surgery, your surgeon will cut a small hole in your chest to house the device, and then he or she will link cables to your heart. General anesthesia is used to keep patients comfortable during surgery and to allow them to return to normal consciousness afterwards. Most people return home within one day of their surgery and are able to resume most activities within two weeks after the implantation of their pacemaker. Routine follow-ups are also required after implantation and can last up to six months before dropping down to annual visits.