What is a pacemaker placement operation?

A pacemaker is a small device that is implanted under the skin at the level of the pectorals. This small device senses the heartbeat and, if it detects irregularities, sends a signal to make it beat at an appropriate rate.

It consists of a battery-operated generator and wires that are connected to the heart. The batteries must be changed approximately every 15 years.

There are different types:

  • Single chamber pacemaker. It emits electrical impulses to the right ventricle of the heart.
  • Dual chamber pacemaker. Emits electrical impulses to the right ventricle and right atrium of the heart.
  • Biventricular pacemaker. Recommended for people with heart failure. It stimulates the lower chambers of the heart (right and left ventricles).

Why is a pacemaker placed?

It is used for all those people with heart problems who suffer from arrhythmias, tachycardia, heart failure or have suffered a heart attack.

Symptoms of an excessively slow heartbeat may include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting episodes
  • Shortness of breath

What is a pacemaker?

The pacemaker seeks to imitate the action of the heart’s natural electrical system. The generator is in charge of regulating the heart’s impulse frequency and the electrodes are the ones that send the necessary electrical impulses to have a correct cardiac rhythm.

The implantation of the pacemaker requires a surgical procedure that consists of a small incision on the left side, just below the collarbone. The physician places the leads through the cut with the help of live x-ray imaging.

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Preparation for the pacemaker

The doctor will perform various medical tests in order to clarify the cause of the irregular heart rhythm. This may be through an electrocardiogram, Holter monitoring, echocardiogram or a stress test.

Once the patient arrives at the office, an intravenous line will be placed in the forearm or hand and a relaxing medication will be administered to make the patient feel more comfortable.

If necessary, the left side of the chest will be shaved. During the procedure the patient may feel a little cold, but may be covered with sterile drapes. The arms should be restrained, as they should not move during the procedure.

Post-procedure care

As a general rule, the patient should spend the night in the hospital so that the team of cardiologists can monitor the heart rhythm, and once the night is over, the electrodes and generator will be checked to see if they are working properly.