What You Need to Know About Pacemakers
A pacemaker sends electrical impulses to restore the heart’s rhythm. Today’s streamlined pacemakers, like the market-leading options from Medtronic, weigh about 1 ounce. But this small device has helped millions of people live more active lives.
Bradycardia is a slow or irregular heart rhythm, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. At this rate, the heart is not able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to your body during normal activity or exercise. As a result, you may feel dizzy or have chronic lack of energy, shortness of breath, or even fainting spells.
What Is It?
Pacemaker therapy is the most common way to treat bradycardia. A pacemaker helps restore the heart’s rhythm. By sending tiny electrical signals to the heart to increase the heart rate, a pacemaker can relieve the symptoms of bradycardia.
What Is a Pacemaker?
A pacemaker is designed to treat a slow heartbeat. When people refer to a pacemaker, they are actually discussing a pacing system: a pacemaker, a pacing lead or leads, and a programmer. Two parts are placed inside the body: the pacemaker and pacing lead.
The pacemaker is a small metal case that contains electronic circuitry and a battery. The pacemaker continually monitors the heart and sends an electrical impulse to pace the heart when the heart’s own rhythm is interrupted, irregular, or too slow.
The pacing lead is an insulated wire that carries the tiny electrical impulse from the pacemaker to the heart to regulate the heart rate.
The third part, the programmer, is kept in a hospital or clinic. A nurse or doctor uses the specialized computer to see how the pacemaker is working and if necessary, to adjust the settings of a pacemaker.
The three parts of a pacing system work together to treat bradycardia (a heart rate that is too slow). A pacing system increases the heart rate to meet the oxygen needs of the body.