Pacemaker - Woodholme Cardiovascular Associates
What is a Pacemaker?
You Cardiologist/Electrophysiologist may have recommended a pacemaker. These devices are most commonly inserted in patients with slow heart rates, a condition called bradycardia. Pacemakers:
- Consist of a generator and one, two or three leads to pace the heart.
- The generator houses the battery and electrical components of the device.
- Are relatively small devices. Approximately 1-2” in diameter and ¼” thick.
Bradycardia and other Indications for Pacemaker Implantation
- Bradycardia (or “slow heart rate”) may be a result of high blood pressure (hypertension), hardening of the arteries (coronary artery disease), congenital, or secondary to various medications (beta-blockers, digoxin, calcium channel blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs).
- Tachycardia/bradycardia syndrome is a condition when the heart sometimes beats much too fast (tachycardia) and other times too slow (bradycardia) and is a common reason for pacemaker implantation. This many times accompanies the heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. By placing a pacemaker that prevents the heart rate from getting too slow, medications can be added to treat the fast heart rates. This creates a “floor” and “ceiling” on the heart rate preventing the lightheadedness caused by slow heart rates and rapid heart rate sensation of high heart rates.
- Requires a 1-2 inch incision.
- Surgery takes approximately 90 minutes.
- Anesthesia: Local and conscious sedation (twilight).
- The leads are threaded via the subclavian/axillary/cephalic vein to the heart.
- Overnight stay.
- 1-2% risk of complications.
- Dressing remains for up to 4 days post-implantation.
- May shower once the dressing is removed. Tub bath or sponge bath until then.
- No lifting the affected side above the shoulder for one month.
- No lifting greater than five pounds with the affected side for one month.
Daily Living with a Pacemaker
We encourage patients to be very active once the pacemaker has healed. You should:
- Carry the pacemaker ID card with you at all times.
- Inform any medical professional that you have a pacemaker.
- Inform security when walking through a metal detector that you have a pacemaker. Walking through the metal detector will not harm the pacemaker.
Most pacemakers are not compatible with MRI scanners. You may have X-rays, CT scans and stress tests. You may also use a microwave with a pacemaker.
- Pacemakers are followed either in our clinic or your cardiologist clinic every 6 months.
- Most pacemakers last 6-8 years, however actual longevity may vary based on pacemaker usage.