What is a pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a small electrical device that is placed inside a patient’s chest. It creates an electric impulse that helps to keep the heart beating normally. It consists of insulated wires called electrodes or leads, and an electric pulse generator.


When is a pacemaker recommended?

When a person’s heart rhythm is abnormal at times – a condition called arrhythmia – the heart is not pumping blood properly. Other people may experience an unacceptably low heart rate, a condition called bradycardia. Cardiologists recommend pacemaker insertion to patients with arrhythmia, bradycardia or other conditions that cause their hearts to beat abnormally.


What is the procedure for inserting a pacemaker?

A cardiac specialist inserts electrodes (insulated wires) into a vein near the patient’s collarbone and threads them to the right positions on the heart. The leads are attached to an electric pulse generator. Finally, the pulse generator is implanted near the collarbone. Pacemakers are programmed and checked using wireless equipment.


What are the results of pacemaker insertion?

Patients with pacemakers resume normal activities within a few weeks of insertion. They experience relief from the fatigue or light-headed feelings caused by their abnormal heartbeat.

Cell phones, security systems and other equipment that produces small electrical fields usually do not interfere with a pacemaker. Patients are cautioned to avoid long periods of close exposure, such as leaning against a metal detector. Patients may also need to take special precautions with certain medical procedures or around high-voltage equipment. Otherwise, individuals wearing pacemakers are not limited in their lifestyle and activities.