Each year in the United States, 200,000 pacemakers are implanted, and this number is expected to increase as the population ages. There are many reasons why people with irregular heart rhythms opt for these lifesaving devices and understanding them is important.
To help you better understand the role that a pacemaker can play when you have an arrhythmia, the highly skilled team of heart health experts here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists pulled together the following information.
Your heart’s rhythm explained
Your heart’s rhythm is controlled by a group of cells located in the upper right atria of your heart. Also called pacemaker cells, these cells produce electrical impulses that cause the chambers of your heart to contract and push blood through.
Under normal circumstances, these cells cause your heart to beat 60-100 times a minute to deliver oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body.
When you have an arrhythmia, you have an irregular heartbeat, which can present itself in many ways, including:
- Bradycardia — your heart beats too slowly
- Tachycardia — your heart beats too quickly
- Atrial fibrillation — your upper chambers don’t contract correctly
- Ventricular fibrillation — the lower chambers of your heart don’t contract correctly
- Conduction disorders — your heart’s electrical system malfunctions
These are the more common examples of arrhythmias, some of which can be remedied by a pacemaker.
What a pacemaker accomplishes
As the name suggests, a pacemaker is a device that regulates the rhythm of your heart when you have an arrythmia.
The device itself consists of a pulse generator that houses the battery and computer as well as leads that we insert into certain areas of your heart.
We often use pacemakers when we encounter the following:
- Frequent tachycardia episodes
- Electrical signal malfunctioning
- Congenital heart defects
- Heart block
- Sinus node malfunction
With the pacemaker, our goal is to resolve these issues by establishing a steady heart rate that encourages optimal circulation in your body.
Should you consider a pacemaker?
The best way to answer this question is to come see us for a full evaluation. Arrhythmias not only range in types, but they can also range in severity. In some cases, an arrhythmia may not pose a clear-and-present danger and can be managed with some lifestyle changes. In others, your arrhythmia may place you more at risk for a heart attack or stroke, which means we’ll want to treat the problem as quickly as possible.
Implanting a pacemaker is a step that we take only after fully assessing your arrhythmia, your potential for complications, and whether more conservative treatments, such as medications, have failed.
If you want to learn more about pacemakers or the treatment options for your arrhythmia, please contact our office Mountain View, California, to schedule a consultation.