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Why Would I Need a Pacemaker?

Why Would I Need a Pacemaker?

The first pacemakers were invented in the 1960s, but the procedure didn’t have long-term success. Pacemakers have come a long way since, with over 1.5 million successful procedures performed each year. Pacemakers are simple, yet highly specialized medical devices that help regulate your heartbeat. 

Your pulse and the pace of your heart are more important to your health than you might think. Unfortunately, some people are born with or develop an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. If you’re facing cardiac problems in the Tampa and Lutz, Florida area, Dr. Muthu Velusamy and the team at Cardiovascular Institute of America are here to help you. Below, we share with you what you should know about pacemakers, including why you might need one, and what to expect.

What is a pacemaker? 

A pacemaker is an electric device that’s implanted in your chest. Pacemakers send electric signals to your heart to make sure that the pace of your heart is healthy. Pacemakers work as needed, automatically sending electric pulses when your heart is beating too slowly. 

There are several types of pacemakers, and depending on what’s right for you, your pacemaker may go directly into one of the four chambers of your heart, or it may be placed just under your clavicle, right above your heart. Pacemakers may have two parts: the pulse generator, and the leads, or electrodes.

The pulse generator is a matchbox-sized battery and the powerhouse of the pacemaker. Tiny wires connect it to the leads, which send the electric signals to the heart. For pacemakers that are implanted directly into the heart, the leads aren’t necessary, and the pulse generator is implanted in the heart muscle.  

With contemporary pacemakers, the device is programmed by your doctor to match and regulate your heart’s rhythm. Your pacemaker will send an electric pulse when your heart goes below the minimum rate, helping your heart stay on beat. 

Why would I need a pacemaker? 

If you’re living with bradycardia, or slow heartbeat, you’re probably a candidate for a pacemaker. The other reason you may need a pacemaker is in the case of heart failure. If your heart is beating too slowly, oxygenated blood can’t efficiently reach all of your organs, causing a range of symptoms: 

Without a pacemaker, the symptoms of bradycardia may affect your everyday life, and could affect your longevity. Some people need a pacemaker after an overdose of medication, surgery, or a heart attack. In these cases, however, the pacemaker will be temporary, as your heart’s rhythm is expected to recover. 

What happens if I get a pacemaker? 

If Dr. Velusamy thinks you might need a pacemaker, he first goes over your medical history and discusses any medications or supplements that you’re taking. He also asks you about your family history and talks with you about your symptoms. Dr. Velusamy tests you to confirm that you’re living with bradycardia, or would otherwise benefit from a pacemaker. You may need an ultrasound, a stress test, or cardiac event monitoring. Once you both have decided that you need a pacemaker, the office staff will schedule your procedure for pacemaker implant as an outpatient at a hospital.

The night before your procedure, you can have a regular meal, but you have to cut out all food, water and candy no later than midnight. After making sure you’re comfortable in the hospital, we give you either local or general anesthesia that protects you from discomfort without putting you to sleep. After covering you in a sheet, Dr. Velusamy inserts your pacemaker through a tiny incision near your collarbone. 

The procedure can last for as few as one hour, or as long as two hours. After your procedure, you may need to stay for one night in the hospital while Dr. Velusamy monitors your progress. You will also need to arrange a ride home, and plan to avoid strenuous activity for at least one month. 

Choosing to get a pacemaker carries the common risks of anesthesia, but is generally considered to be a safe procedure. Dr. Velusamy will need to check in with you 7days till the wound heals in the office and then every 3 months to make sure the device is working well. If you’ve been living with signs of arrhythmia, call our offices or book an appointment with us online.

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