Your heart beats about 100,000 times per day and accomplishes 35 million beats over the course of a year. During an average human lifetime, the heart beats a whopping 2.5 billion times, give or take. Though the sheer number of times your heart beats is incredible, it’s equally as important that these beats sustain a certain rhythm. If your heartbeat becomes irregular, it places you at a much higher risk for serious, and sometimes life-threatening, cardiovascular issues.
For those whose hearts are having rhythm problems, there is a highly effective solution — a pacemaker. Here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists, our highly knowledgeable team has extensive experience helping our patients regain steady, healthy heart beats through pacemakers.
Here’s a look at how these life-saving devices work.
Out of rhythm
Your heart is essentially a pump that’s divided into four chambers — your two upper atria and your two lower ventricles. This “pump” is powered by electrical currents that start in your sinoatrial node, located in your right atrium. These electrical impulses then follow circuitry through your atrium and down to your lower ventricles, causing contractions that push blood through your heart, lungs, and into your body.
When you develop an arrhythmia, which is a catch-all term for an irregular heartbeat, the problem can lead to a heart rate that’s too fast (more than 100 beats per minute), too slow (under 60 beats per minute), or erratic.
Not all arrhythmias are dangerous, and people often lead healthy lives despite a minor rhythm problem. When an arrhythmia is persistent and moderate-to-severe, however, you’re more at risk for serious problems like heart attack and stroke.
Enter the pacemaker
A pacemaker is a device that detects when your heartbeat becomes too irregular or two slow and then jumps into action by delivering electrical impulses into your heart that restore the correct rhythm.
The pacemaker itself consists of a pulse generator, which contains the battery and a small computer, and leads and electrodes that connect the pulse generator to your heart.
A pacemaker may have one to three leads and where we place these leads depends upon the origin of your arrhythmia. For example, if your arrhythmia stems from a problem in your upper atria or in your sinus node, we place leads in these areas. If your ventricles aren’t contracting properly, we may place the leads into these lower chambers.
Putting the pacemaker to work
We’ve had great success using pacemakers to correct several different issues, including:
- Brady-arrhythmias (slow heart rate)
- Congestive heart failure
- Syncope (fainting spells)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
We can implant a pacemaker during an outpatient procedure, which means you’re usually free to go home that same day. We program the pacemaker to your specific needs, and we can make any necessary adjustments along the way. In other words, we’re with you every step of the way as we work toward a long-term solution for regulating your heart’s rhythm.
If you have more questions about a pacemaker and whether you might benefit from this therapy, please contact our office in Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.