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A pacemaker is an electrically-charged medical device. Your surgeon implants it under your skin to help manage irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias.
Modern pacemakers have two parts. One part, called the pulse generator, contains the battery and the electronics that control your heartbeat. The other part is one or more leads to send electrical signals to your heart. Leads are small wires that run from the pulse generator to your heart.
Pacemakers generally treat two types of arrhythmias:
- tachycardia, a heartbeat that’s too fast
- bradycardia, a heartbeat that’s too slow
Some people need a special type of pacemaker called a biventricular pacemaker, or bivent. You may need a bivent if you have severe heart failure. A bivent makes the two sides of the heart beat in sync. This is known as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).
Why do I need a pacemaker?
You need a pacemaker if your heart is pumping too quickly or slowly. In either case, your body doesn’t get enough blood. This can cause:
fainting or lightheadedness
shortness of breath
damage to vital organs
A pacemaker regulates your body’s electrical system, which controls your heart rhythm. With each heartbeat, an electrical impulse travels from the top of your heart to the bottom, signaling your heart’s muscles to contract. A pacemaker can also track and record your heartbeat. A record can help your doctor better understand your arrhythmia.
Not all pacemakers are permanent. Temporary pacemakers can control certain types of problems. You may need a temporary pacemaker after a heart attack or heart surgery. You may also need one if a medication overdose temporarily slowed your heart.
Your doctor or cardiologist will test you to see if you’re a good candidate for a pacemaker.
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Last updated: Feb 22, 2018 9:40 pm