Almost all pacemakers are implanted to treat slow heart beating, which is called “bradycardia.” At rest, the heart usually beats about 50 to 70 times each minute, and the heart rate may increase 2- to 3-fold during stress or exercise. If the heart beats too slowly, the brain and body do not get enough blood flow and a variety of symptoms may result.
Symptoms Associated With Need for a Pacemaker
- Near fainting
- Lack of energy
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance
Extreme slowing or complete stopping of the heartbeat can be fatal. In other cases, people may have no symptoms but are at high risk for dangerously slow heart rates because of disturbances of the electrical system of the heart. A pacemaker may be recommended for these people before symptoms occur.
The normal heartbeat is controlled by a natural pacemaker in the heart called the sinus node. The electrical signal generated by the sinus node spreads throughout the heart causing it to beat. The most common reason for pacemaker implantation is because the sinus node function becomes too slow from age, heart disease, or heart medications. The other leading cause for pacemaker implantation is failure of the normal electrical signal to reach the main pumping chambers, causing the slow heart rate known as heart block. The artificial pacemaker implanted by physicians corrects both causes of slow heart beating by providing electrical signals to tell the heart to beat at the proper rates and by delivering the signal to the appropriate chambers of the heart.
What to Expect After the Pacemaker
After the pacemaker is implanted, it should be evaluated by your cardiologist every 3 to 6 months with the use of a computer that will provide information about how the pacemaker is working and about the life of the battery. Such periodic checks on the battery usually give a several-month warning before the pacemaker requires replacement because of low battery voltage. The average pacemaker battery lasts about 5 to 8 years. Some people may be advised to have their pacemakers checked monthly over the telephone (known as telephonic surveillance). In the vast majority of patients, the presence of the pacemaker does not change lifestyle or activities in any way. Your cardiologist will review any possible restrictions with you. There are some situations, however, that are to be avoided if you have a pacemaker, such as full-contact sports, which may damage the pacemaker, exposure to arc welding equipment, magnetic resonance scanners (MRI), and high-voltage commercial transformers.
Please contact Dr. Romel Daniel or the Administrative Department