According to a study, patients with a pacemaker have a 20% lower risk of death or hospitalisation than those who receive medicine only. Pacemakers are lifesavers for people who have a heart rhythm disorder or related conditions.
A pacemaker is a tiny device that is inserted into the soft tissue beneath the skin in the chest, which helps regulate the heartbeat. This device is used to help one’s heart beat more efficiently, if they are having an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), particularly a slow one. Implanting a pacemaker in one’s chest is a surgical procedure.
How does it work?
A normal heart’s sinus node is the natural pacemaker (placed in the upper right chamber of the heart), which sends an electrical impulse to make the heart beat. It is when this sinus node isn’t functioning properly, that one needs a pacemaker. A pacemaker’s job is to artificially take over the role of the sinus node and send electrical impulses to the heart, to contract and produce a heartbeat. The impulses are not as intense as an electrical shock. Some pacemakers work only on demand, when they’re needed, while some send out impulses all of the time.
People who are noticing following changes, might require the implantation of a pacemaker:
- Having a particular kind of blockage – a delay in the electrical signals travelling via the heart, that can make the heart beat too slowly.
- When the heart beats are too fast and can not be controlled by medications.
- Symptoms of heart failure, which might cause the heart to pump out of sync.
Majority of the pacemakers are extremely dependable and comfortable. They are about the size of a matchbox and weigh between 20 and 50 grams.
Types of Pacemakers
Depending on the patient’s condition, they might have one of the following types of pacemakers:
- Single chamber pacemaker- This type of pacemaker usually carries electrical impulses to the right ventricle of one’s heart.
- Dual chamber pacemaker– This type of pacemaker carries electrical impulses to the right ventricle and the right atrium of one’s heart to help control the timing of contractions between the two chambers.
- Biventricular pacemaker– Biventricular pacing is also known as cardiac resynchronization therapy. This therapy is for people with signs of heart failure, with abnormal electrical systems. This pacemaker stimulates the lower chamber of the heart (the left and right ventricles) which makes the heart beat more efficiently.
- Pacemakers can help the patient to be more active.
- Prevent the heart rhythms from going too slowly.
- These pacemakers are quite helpful as they coordinate the patient’s heart beats so that the top and bottom and right and left chambers beat synchronously. This might help people who have advanced heart failure.
- Pacemakers treat symptoms such as fatigue, fainting and lightheadedness.
- The device can also send the data to the patient’s doctor remotely, so that the doctor can use these recordings to adjust the settings of the fitted pacemaker, which will make it work better for the patient.
- It can also prevent the patient from going to the hospitals and assist them in living a longer life.
- They can keep a heart beating at the proper rate by giving it a small electrical jolt at the right time.
- It changes the perspective of the person, as people who have a pacemaker fitted felt that it has a tremendously positive impact on their life.
- Just like any other batteries, a pacemaker’s battery will also run out over time. Even the best of them eventually run out of energy and replacing them requires surgery.
- Pacemakers might get affected by electromagnetic interference.
- In some cases, the skin near the implant might eventually wear down.
- Adapting to the pacemaker in the heart might require some time.
- The electrodes on the lead, as well as the pacing pulses, can irritate or damage surrounding tissues, such as heart tissue and nerves.
In spite of the drawbacks, pacemakers actually work as life savers. There has been a longest working pacemaker recorded. A person named Randy Kasbery (USA) had the longest working pacemaker installed in his skin, which has been working for 36 years and 337 days, after it was installed on 30 September 1977 in Gainesville, Florida.