What Is A Pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a small
battery-operated device used to regulate your heart's rhythm. When your
heart's electrical system does not signal it to contract often enough,
or if the signal is not transmitted to the entire heart, you may need a
pacemaker to do this work for you.
Your cardiologist will evaluate you and select the type of pacemaker
for your needs. Some pacemakers use a single lead to the lower chamber
of the heart (ventricle). This is referred to as single-chamber pacing.
Other pacemakers use two leads, one in the upper chamber of the heart
(atrium) and one in the ventricle. This is called dual-chamber pacing.
If necessary, your cardiologist will select a type of pacemaker that
changes its own rate with your activity. This is called rate-responsive
How Is A Pacemaker Implanted?
Implantation of a
pacemaker takes about one hour and under most circumstances, is done
with local anesthesia. Your cardiologist will make a small incision in
the skin, close to your shoulder, under your collar bone (clavicle). He
will then pass the lead wire into the right side of your heart. The
lead wire will be tested for proper position. A small pocket will be
made under the skin in your upper chest for the pacemaker, and the lead
will be connected to the pacemaker pulse generator. The incision will
be closed, and you will be taken back to your room for rest and
recovery. Immediately after surgery, your cardiologist will go to the
surgical waiting room to speak with your family. Please be sure they
What Are The Risks?
Your potential risks in
having a pacemaker inserted include, but are not limited to: pain at
the incision site, infection, pneumothorax (air in the lung),
perforation of heart muscle, lead dislodgment or failure, bleeding
and/or swelling in the pacemaker pocket, and erosion of the pacemaker
generator through skin over time.
What Is The Recovery Time?
Allow about four
weeks for your pacemaker to settle firmly in place. During this time,
avoid lifting anything over five pounds, raising your arms above your
shoulder, or doing any vigorous pushing or pulling with your arm on the
side where your pacemaker is located.
Cardiovascular diagnostic and interventional procedures may cause
unexpected problems, but serious and life-threatening problems are
unusual. Your Florida Heart Group physician will discuss the potential risks and benefits in detail so you can both decide which treatment is best for you.