What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a medical device. It's used to treat some Arrhythmia, commonly Bradycardia.
Arrhythmia means the irregular rhythm of a heart. It may be too slow, too fast, or irregular that can be a severe problem.
Bradycardia is an abnormally slow heartbeat - lower than 60beats per minute (normal resting heart rate for an adult is 60-100 beats per minute)
If the heart doesn’t contract often enough to pump enough blood throughout your body, that means your body doesn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients to function correctly. That will cause tiredness, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
What does a pacemaker do?
It helps the heart to keep the heartbeat at a normal rhythmic rate. Also, pacemakers can help the heart chambers beat in sync, making the heart pump blood quickly and efficiently throughout the veins.
How does it work?
It sends low-energy electrical pulses to the cavity of the right atrium and/or right ventricle to stimulate the heart rate and the rhythm. Briefly, it mimics the action of the cardiac conduction system.
(Heart has an electrical system to control the heart rate and the rhythm of the heartbeat called the cardiac conduction system)
But it only works when needed! That means: when the cardiac conduction system doesn’t do its job correctly, it is detected by a part of the pacemaker, electrodes(leads), and plants electrical impulses in the heart to make it beat faster.
Types of pacemakers
Generally, there are several kinds of pacemakers like Unipolar pacemakers, Dual-chamber pacemakers, Biventricular pacemakers, etc.
Latest pacemakers have sensors to detect body motions and/or breathing rate. It helps the pacemaker to increase heart rate as needed. The pacemakers can be monitored remotely. This allows the doctor to treat the disease efficiently.
Where does it get inserted?
Usually, it is placed in the chest, below the collarbone.
As implantation is a very safe procedure, complications are much uncommon. In a percentage, complications only occur in 1%-6% out of all implantations.
· Allergic reactions to the chemicals used in the procedure
· Internal bleeding, swellings
· Damages to the nerves or the blood vessels near the pacemaker
· Collapsed lung
Also, there are some precautions you should take after the implantation, such as avoiding large magnetic fields like MRI machines, large motors, avoiding high voltage or radar machines like transmitters, high-tension wires, etc.
The batteries used in pacemakers have a lifespan of 5-9 years. You have to replace them when the battery runs low! (There are few rechargeable ones but still, they fail due to some other reasons)
Though there are few risks of having a pacemaker, don’t fear pacemakers! It doesn’t shorten your life. It helps you to live your life, reducing the chances of having bradycardia.
(But keep this in mind, a pacemaker doesn’t prevent/stop heart attacks or heart diseases)