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Heart Pacemaker

Every heart has a pacemaker. For most individuals, the pacemaker is a natural part of the heart, called the sino-atrial (SA) node. The SA node regulates the beat of the heart, and, in turn, the flow of blood throughout the body.

As physical activity increases, the SA node adjusts the beat of the heart to pump blood rapidly.  For some, the SA node fails to function properly, not regulating blood flow the way it should.  For those individuals, a pacemaker system is available to help correct the problem.

A pacemaker system is a two-part electrical system that includes a pulse generator and one or two leads or wires, which deliver impulses to the heart. The wires also carry signals back from the heart to the pacemaker. The pacemaker then takes these signals and monitors the heart’s activity and responds appropriately. The implanted pacemaker is approximately the size of a silver dollar and as thick as two silver dollars. A battery that is sealed inside the pulse generator powers the system. Every four to eight years, as the battery weakens, the entire pacemaker must be replaced. When the pacemaker is implanted, the lead(s) are positioned in the right ventricle and right atrium (if needed). The surgeon then forms a pocket under the skin of the upper chest and connects the generator with the leads. Most pacemaker procedures are completed in two hours or less and only require local anesthesia.

What to expect during this procedure

  • A medication is given intravenously to relax you.
  • An incision is made under the collarbone.
  • The leads are placed into a vein and guided inside your heart chamber.
  • The pulse generator is placed in the upper chest near the shoulder just underneath the skin and is connected to the heart by leads.

What to expect after this procedure

  • Your heart rate, pulse and blood pressure will be closely monitored after your procedure.
  • You will be admitted to the hospital, usually for one to three days.
  • The morning after your procedure your AICD will be checked to ensure proper programming and positioning.
  • You will have a slight bulge under the skin where the generator is located.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing or a tight belt to avoid irritation of your wounds.

Returning home
If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician’s office.

This procedure is offered at these facilities:

To find a physician visit our Find a Doc or call (502) 629-1234 for a physician referral.

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