A pacemaker is a small device that is used to help treat certain heart rhythm problems. It is about the size of a small stopwatch and is usually implanted under the skin on the chest, just under the collarbone.
Inside the pacemaker are tiny wires, called leads, that are placed in the heart through a vein. The pacemaker sends small electrical signals to the heart through these leads, which help to regulate the heart’s rhythm and improve its function.
Pacemakers are used to treat a variety of heart rhythm problems, including slow heart rates and irregular heart rhythms. They can help to improve symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and fainting, and may also reduce the risk of certain complications, such as heart failure.
Pacemaker implantation is a minor surgical procedure that is typically done in a hospital or clinic setting. The procedure takes about one to two hours and is usually done under local anesthesia, which means the patient is awake but the area where the pacemaker is implanted is numb.
After the procedure, the patient will need to follow up with their healthcare provider to ensure that the pacemaker is working properly and to make any necessary adjustments. Pacemakers are generally very reliable and can last for many years, but they may need to be replaced or updated at some point.
Pacemaker implantation is generally a safe and effective procedure, but as with any surgery, there are some potential risks and complications to be aware of. These may include:
- Infection at the implant site
- Bleeding or bruising at the implant site
- Damage to blood vessels or nerves during the procedure
- Allergic reactions to the medications used during the procedure
- Blood clots
In rare cases, the pacemaker may not function properly or may need to be removed and replaced. This may be due to problems with the device itself, or it may be necessary if the patient’s heart rhythm changes or if the leads become damaged.
It is important to discuss these risks with a healthcare provider before the procedure and to follow their instructions carefully to minimize the risk of complications. Most people who receive a pacemaker experience few or no problems, and the device can provide significant benefits in terms of symptom improvement and quality of life.