A pacemaker is a small device (about the size of two silver dollars stuck together) placed under the skin of your chest just below the collarbone. A pacemaker helps to regulate your heart rhythm. The pacemaker runs on batteries and sends out electrical impulses that keep the heart beating at its proper speed.
Why do I need a pacemaker?
A pacemaker will keep your heart contracting and pumping blood. It is needed when there is a problem with the hearts electrical system. You may have very slow heartbeats -- or both slow and fast heartbeats if there is an electrical problem in any of the hearts cells. Dizziness, fainting spells, shortness of breath, and blurred vision may be symptoms of a heart rhythm disturbance.
How is the pacemaker inserted?
Pacemaker insertion is not considered major surgery. It is performed in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. The procedure takes only one to two hours and is performed under local anesthesia. You will be sedated, but awake.
Your physician makes a three to four inch incision in the upper chest area and a small pocket is made under the skin over a vein. The pacemaker will rest in this pocket. As the physician watches progress on a monitor, the wires are guided through a vein into the hearts chambers. The electrode rests directly against the inner wall of the heart. The battery / timer is attached to the wires and placed in the pocket under the skin.
Implantable Carioverter Defibrillators
Used to treat arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is placed in the chest or abdomen and delivers life-saving electrical pulses that return the heart to its natural rhythm. ICDs are used for arrhythmias in the lower chamgers fo the heart.