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What is a Pacemaker?


The pacemaker is a small electric device that is implanted in your chest or abdomen to make your heart function regularly.

It works with electric stimulation that controls the rate of heartbeat.

When is a pacemaker needed?

During an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue (tiredness), shortness of breath, or fainting. In severe cases body’s vital organs can get damaged or a loss of consciousness or death may occur.

Therefore pacemaker can be required:-

  • To relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting.
  • To prevent too fast or slow heartbeat.
  • When there is blockage in the heart’s electrical pathways.

Types of Pacemaker

There are 2 types of pacemaker- Temporary and Permanent.

Temporary pacemakers

  • These are used to treat short-term heart problems, such as a slow heartbeat that’s caused by a heart attack, heart surgery, or an overdose of medicine.
  • Used during emergencies.
  • Placed until a temporary condition goes away.

Permanent pacemakers

These are used to control long-term heart rhythm problems.

How does a pacemaker work?

A pacemaker is made of an electric battery, a generator and wires. The wires connect the generator to the heart.

A pacemaker monitors your heart beat, rhythm and heart activity.

Any abnormality will direct the generator to send electrical pulses to your heart via the wires.

Placing a pacemaker

It requires a minor surgery which is done in a special heart treatment laboratory.

First your doctor will numb the area where pacemaker is to be inserted. He/she will give you antibiotics to prevent any infections.

Your doctor will place a needle into the large vein of the dominant shoulder. He/she will then use that needle to tie all the wires together. An X-ray will help your doctor to trace the path of the wires.

Once the wires are in place, your doctor will make a small cut into the skin of your chest or abdomen to place the box containing generator and battery. He or she will then connect the metal box to the wires.

After making sure that it works properly, your doctor will sew the cut.

You will be advised to stay overnight. You might feel pain and tenderness in the area of insertion. Your doctor will recommend you to avoid heavy lifting or indulging in vigorous activities.

Lifestyle changes with Pacemaker

There are certain things you need to keep in mind once you have pacemaker.

  • Try to avoid exposure to electronic devices like microwave, oven etc.
  • While using a cell phone, hold it in the hand opposite to the side where pacemaker is placed.
  • Do not keep the cell phone/MP3 Player in the chest pocket.
  • Inform your doctors or dentist about the pacemaker.
  • Let the security be known about pacemaker at the check posts.
  • Make sure the battery in the pacemaker is charged and get it changed when it runs down.

Avoid playing sports which involve direct contact like football etc.

For more information, contact our cardiologist at CMC, Mohali. You can prevail facilities like ECG/EKG, Echocardiography, Holter monitor test, stress testing etc. in our Cardiology Department.