Pacemaker treatment has been demonstrated to greatly increase survival rates and overall quality of life in people suffering from heart failure or cardiac arrest. Before you start the process of getting one, it’s important to understand what the pacemaker does, how to prepare for surgery, what the risks and complications are, what routine follow-ups will look like and how your device works. 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. A pacemaker may be necessary for someone who has diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol that has persisted for a long period of time. There are also certain hereditary diseases that could lead someone to need one. Talk with your doctor about what type of pacemaker is best for you and when it should be implanted.
Pacemakers are medical devices that are surgically implanted near the heart in the chest. As a means of treating arrhythmia, electrical pulses are used to restore normal heart rhythm and alleviate its associated 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 known as an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator or ICD.
A pacemaker may be required when the heart’s regular rate and rhythm are disrupted. 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. A pacemaker can also help reduce episodes of abnormal rhythms called arrhythmias. 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.
Implantation of the device takes place in the subclavian region, close to the breastbone. This can be accomplished by either an open chest operation or a smaller incision. During surgery, your surgeon will make a small incision in your chest to house the device and then connect cables to your heart. Doctors may use general anaesthesia so you will not feel any pain during this surgery and are fully awake when they finish. Most patients are able to go home the day following surgery and resume their normal routine within two weeks of having a pacemaker put. Routine follow-ups are also required after implantation and can last up to six months before dropping down to annual visits.