Cardiovascular Institute > About Us > Procedures > Pacemaker Insertion

Pacemaker Insertion

Pacemaker insertionA pacemaker is a small electronic device that helps regulate slow electrical problems in the heart. The pacemaker is usually implanted in the chest, just below the collarbone. A pacemaker may be recommended to keep the heartbeat from slowing down to a dangerously low rate.

The heart is a pump made up of muscle tissue that is stimulated by electrical currents, which normally follow a specific circuit within the heart. These natural electrical impulses coordinate contractions of the different parts of the heart to keep blood flowing the way it should. A pacemaker may be needed when there are problems with the natural electrical conduction system of the heart.

A pacemaker is made of three parts: a pulse generator, one or more leads, and an electrode on each lead. A pacemaker signals the heart to beat when the natural heartbeat is too slow or irregular.

Conditions Treated

Some examples of heart rate and rhythm problems for which a pacemaker might be inserted include:

  • Bradycardia: When the heart beats too slowly
  • Tachy-brady syndrome: Alternating fast and slow heartbeats
  • Heart block: A delayed or blocked electrical signal as it travels through the heart muscle

What to Expect

A pacemaker insertion may be done on an outpatient basis or as part of a hospital stay. The patient receives a sedative medication through an IV to help relax, but stays awake during the procedure. The physician makes a small incision at the insertion site, usually under the collarbone.

A sheath, or introducer, is put into a large blood vessel. The lead wire is threaded through the introducer into the blood vessel and through the heart. Fluoroscopy may be used to help check the location of the leads. The pacemaker generator is slipped under the patient’s skin through the incision after the lead wire is attached to it. The pacemaker is tested to ensure everything is working correctly, and the incision is closed.

Under the careful watch of their physician, the patient is able to return to a normal daily routine within a few days. Follow-up appointments will track the pacemaker and its functionality.

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