Pacemaker

pacemakerA pacemaker is an implantable device used to treat arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats). Arrhythmias happen when your heart’s electrical activity causes it to beat too slow, too quick, or irregularly. A pacemaker implant uses electrical pulses to help your heart beat normally. A pacemaker has two main parts. The wires called leads that connect to your heart and the pulse generator. The wires continually monitor your heart rhythm and send information to the pulse generator. The pulse generator recognizes abnormal heart rhythms and responds by sending electrical pulses back to your heart to correct the rhythm.

They are different kinds of pacemakers depending on what the patient needs.

Single Chamber Pacemakers have one wire that is placed in either the right upper chamber (atrium) or the right lower chamber (ventricle).

Dual Chamber Pacemakers have two wires, one in the atrium and one in the ventricle.

Biventricular Pacemakers have three wires, one in the right atrium, one in the right ventricle and a third around the left side of the heart. These more complicated pacemakers take more time to implant and can be used to resynchronize the conduction between both lower chambers.

The procedure usually takes about two hours. The pacemaker generator is implanted in a small pocket made under the skin. The leads are usually placed in a vein near the collarbone, and then connected to the heart. The leads touch the heart muscle on one end and are connected to the pacemaker generator on the other end.  The pacemaker is programmed to send signals to the heart, and settings can be changed at any time.  The battery in the generator lasts about 10 years and must be replaced when it runs out.