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How Pacemakers Work and What to Know if Your Doctor Recommends You Get One

Also known as a cardiologist’s panacea, a pacemaker is a small device that regulates the heart’s rhythm if the heartbeat is irregular, too slow, or too fast. It works by releasing electrical impulses to the heart muscle.

Pacemakers are generally used for heart conditions like arrhythmia, bradycardia, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, syncope (fainting spells), and heart failure. According to research, an astounding 3 million people live with pacemakers around the globe. In fact, as many as 600,000 pacemakers are implanted each year.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at how pacemakers work. We’ll also help you understand the different kinds of pacemakers so that you can have a more insightful discussion with your doctor.

active man with pacemaker

1. How Does a Pacemaker Work?

Let’s look at how this amazing device works. A pacemaker is designed to expertly sense what the heart is doing via a set of wires. It senses whether the heart is beating too fast, too slow, missing a beat, or functioning abnormally in any other way.

Once these irregularities are detected, the device sends an electrical impulse to prompt the heart to restore normal performance. A modern pacemaker comprises leads, a pacemaker box, electrodes, a battery, and barbs or screws.

2. Do I Need a Pacemaker?

a woman thinking about a pacemaker

If you have been diagnosed with any of the conditions mentioned above, you may be a good candidate for a pacemaker implant. In some cases, people also require a pacemaker if they take medication that slows the heart rate.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with a condition that necessitates pacemaker implantation, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Moderate to severe fatigue
  • An intense pounding sensation in the chest (also known as palpitations)
  • Fainting spells for no apparent reason
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

If you’re experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, you may suffer from a condition that requires pacemaker implantation. Instead of making this decision yourself, always consult a cardiologist. They’ll run tests, look into your medical record, assess your symptoms, and determine whether you’re a good candidate for pacemaker insertion surgery.

3. Which Pacemaker Is Right for Me?

There are generally three types of pacemakers. A standard single-chamber pacemaker comprises one lead, a dual-chamber pacemaker comprises two leads, and a biventricular pacemaker is used in cardiac resynchronization therapy.

As stated earlier, talk to your doctor to understand which type of pacemaker is right for you.

At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, our Heart and Vascular Solutions Center specializes in diagnosing and treating a wide range of heart conditions. Visit our web page to learn more about conditions that affect the heart and vascular system and to find a doctor who’s right for you. You can also find out more about our pacemaker surgery.

In addition to treating cardiovascular conditions, we also provide treatment plans for neck pain, joint pain, knee pain, back pain, hip pain, and a wide range of other conditions.