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How Does a Pacemaker Work

What is a Pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a medically device that is surgically inserted into a patient to help regulate the person’s heart functions. It uses electronic pulses to keep the heart rhythm normal. They are used in people who have abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia) and heart conditions that interfere with the normal function of the heart. If a person has arrhythmia the heart can beat too fast, too slow or very irregularly causing the blood flow around the body to be compromised. This may cause symptoms such as fatigue (tiredness), shortness of breath, or fainting. Serious arrhythmia can cause damage to vital organs within the body. These devices can help people with arrhythmia to live a more normal and active lifestyle.

How Does A Pacemaker Work?

A pacemaker has three main parts, a battery, a computerized generator and leads with electrodes attached. Each of these parts is very important for ensuring that the pacemaker functions correctly. The leads with the electrodes are placed inside the chambers of the heart. These are connected to the computerized generator and battery. When the computer detects an irregular heartbeat, the generator sends and electrical pulse through the lead into the chamber of the heart stimulated it to create the correct heart rhythm. The generated electrical pulse acts as the signal to the heart telling it how and when to beat. Pacemaker can have one to three leads depending on its function.

The wires in a single-chamber pacemaker usually carry pulses between the right ventricle (the lower right chamber of your heart) and the generator.

The wires in a dual-chamber pacemaker carry pulses between the right atrium (the upper right chamber of your heart) and the right ventricle and the generator. The pulses help coordinate the timing of these two chambers’ contractions.

The wires in a biventricular pacemaker carry pulses between an atrium and both ventricles and the generator. The pulses help coordinate electrical signalling between the two ventricles. This type of pacemaker also is called a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device.

Pacemakers can be adjusted to better match the person’s heart via an external computer. A device similar to a mouse is placed over the top of the computer and generators in the pacemaker and adjustments are made on the connected computer. Pacemakers also record the hearts activities helping the cardiologist to make adjustments to the pacemaker and judgments about the effectiveness of the person’s heart. The battery in new pacemakers needs to be changed on average every ten years, but this is a relatively simple procedure.

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