What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a small device that your doctor implants beneath your skin to regulate your heartbeat. Most pacemakers have two components: the generator, which contains the battery and information to control your heartbeat, and the wires (leads) that connect your heart to the generator.
Why would I need a pacemaker?
The team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates uses pacemakers for many reasons. The most common conditions that may require a pacemaker include:
Bradycardia is a type of arrhythmia that happens when your heart beats slower than normal. A healthy heart rate for adults usually falls between 60-100 beats per minute at rest. A slow heartbeat may lead to problems like fatigue, shortness of breath, and fainting.
Heart block occurs when an electrical signal gets slowed down or obstructed as it moves through your heart. This may result from the natural aging process or from damage that occurs after a heart attack.
What is involved in getting a pacemaker?
Before recommending a pacemaker, your doctor at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates performs a thorough physical exam and reviews your symptoms and medical history. They may take tests, including:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Holter monitoring
- Stress test
Surgery to implant or replace a pacemaker occurs while you’re awake, but the team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates gives you local anesthesia and medication to help you relax.
Your doctor implants the generator under your skin, typically in the area beneath your collarbone. They insert one or more leads into a major vein near your collarbone and guide it to your heart with X-ray guidance. They position one end of the lead on your heart and attach the other to the generator.
Pacemaker implantation surgery usually takes a few hours. Afterward, you may need to stay in the hospital for a day. Before you go home, your doctor programs the pacemaker to suit your specific needs.
You need to return for a follow-up visit to have the pacemaker settings adjusted as necessary. After that initial appointment, the team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates can monitor your pacemaker remotely using wireless technology.
To find out if a pacemaker is right for you, call South Shore Cardiovascular Associates or book an appointment online today.