Pacemaker is a small battery operated computer device. Pacemaker is surgically implanted over the pectoralis muscles and under subcutaneous tissue on either side of chest wall. The one end of two wires are connected to pacemaker and other end is connected to heart. Pacemaker stimulate the heart by transmitting signals through the wires to heart muscles. The signals timing depends on programming of the pacemaker by cardiologist. Cardiologist decides the treatment pattern depending on condition of the heart. Like slow heart rate also known as bradycardia is treated by passing the signals to the heart to beat faster or near normal heart rate.1
People require pacemaker for many reasons which includes abnormal heart rhythm knowns as arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are abnormal and irregular heart-beats. Pacemaker in several instance placed to correct the rhythm.
Aging of individuals’ hearts disrupt the normal heart rate and heat beats are often slow. Such heart rate is not supplying adequate blood flow to vital organs and need to be corrected. In addition, damaged heart muscles following ischemia or heart attack is unable to deliver near normal blood flow with each heart beats. In such cases cardiologist may adjust the heart rate and heart contraction using pacemaker. Cardiologists often implants pacemaker in the chest via a minor surgery. Individuals with pacemakers have to take the necessary precautions in daily life after the installation of a pacemaker.
What Exactly Pacemakers Do?
Pacemakers help in controlling the heartbeat of a patient. Doctors implant them temporarily for treating a slow heartbeat post heart attack, medicine overdose or surgery. Even in some cases, doctors implant pacemakers permanently for correcting slow heartbeat problems and for the treatment of heart failure in some cases.
Pacemakers monitor the heartbeat of patients and in case if it is excessively slow, pacemaker increases the heart rate by simply sending the necessary electric signals to the heart. Furthermore, most of the pacemakers come with sensors to detect the breathing rate and body motion of patients. Based on the detected signals, pacemakers increase the heart rate when individuals do any physical exercise to fulfill the increased requirement for oxygen and blood in their bodies.
Components of Implanted Pacemaker
There are natural pacemakers located in heart. These pacemakers are known as SA (sinoatrial node) and AV (atrioventricular node). SA node controls rate and rhythm of contraction of upper chamber of heart known as atrium and SA node does same for lower chamber of heart known as ventricles. The generator creates the signal that is transmitted through the wire connected to the pacemaker. The one of the component of pacemaker is computer device that keeps all the instructions in hard drive and delivers as programmed. Implanted electronically operated pacemaker mimics the functions performed by a natural pacemaker.
Surgery involves insertion of pacemaker and wire. The wires are known as leads or electrodes.
Leads or Electrodes- The one or two wire or electrode are surgically implanted in either right or left chamber of heart or in few cases both the ventricle of the heart. The electric signals from pacemaker are transmitted to the heart muscles that follows contraction of heart.
Pulse Generator- Pacemaker is also known as pulse generator. Pulse generator is a small and a metallic container housing an electrical circuit, computer device and a battery. The impulses or signal are generated by computer device and transmitted to lead or electrode. The electric pulses sent to heart regulates the heart rate.
What is the Life Expectancy of a Person with a Pacemaker?
Cardiologists in general confirm that the pacemaker does not affect the life expectancy of a person as the pacemaker fixes the problem of irregular heartbeats. Even new born babies get pacemakers these days and they live more than 35 to 40 years of life. Older adults suffering with bradycardia or irregular heart beat have better life expectancy when they get pacemakers. Attitude plays a very big role in the person’s life. Pacemaker helps to maintain positive attitude since individuals, after pacemaker use, suffer with less or no symptoms while using pacemaker.
Once cardiologists or cardiac surgeons complete the surgery of implantation of pacemaker, the pacemaker’s battery lasts for minimum 5 years to 15 years. The average battery life of pacemaker is 10 years. In case of wearing out of the pacemaker’s battery, doctors replace the pulse generator of the implanted pacemaker.
Leads/electrodes of pacemakers on the other side continue to remain in their places. Rarely lead replacement is needed. The procedure to change the battery of a pacemaker requires less time and less recovery period. While surgical time is longer for removal and reinsertion of lead.
How to Increase the Pacemaker’s Life Expectancy?
The average life expectancy og pacemaker is about 10 years. Pacemaker can last for 15 years or longer depending on frequency of use and few other factors that may cause unnecessary discharge of electric power. Most cardiologist hope pacemaker will last beyond life expectancy of individual using pacemaker.2 Thus, it is essential for a patient to take the necessary precautions so as to prolong the battery life expectancy of a pacemaker.
Almost every one today is using mobile phone. Do not place mobile phone on top of pacemaker or close to pacemaker. Do not turn on or off mobile phone while phone is close to pacemaker.
Pacemaker battery may not discharge unnecessarily when you pass through metal detector at airport or any security. Avoid repeated use of metal detector or stand close to metal detector for prolonged time. Passing from any airport metallic detector will not interfere with the implanted pacemaker. In simple words, you should keep your implantation site away from remote controls, microwave ovens, TVs, radios, electric blankets, electric drills, toasters and similar others.
Pacemakers have proved to be standard treatments for a large number of conditions affecting the electrical system of patients’ heart. By simply avoiding a slow heartbeat rate, pacemakers are able to treat a large number of symptoms, which include fainting, lightheadedness and fatigue. Since a large number of pacemakers available today are able to adjust with the heart rate of an individual automatically to match his/her physical activity level, these allow resuming of a highly active lifestyle.
Permanent cardiac pacing for patients with iatrogenic or potentially reversible bradyarrhythmia.
Duarte T1, Gonçalves S2, Sá C2, Marinheiro R2, Fonseca M2, Farinha J2, Rodrigues R2, Seixo F2, Parreira L2, Caria R2., Rev Port Cardiol. 2019 Feb;38(2):105-111.
A Battery Life beyond His “Expectancy”.
Ströker E1, Pappaert G1, Roelandt B1, Brugada P1, de Asmundis C1.
Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2015 Oct;38(10):1228-30.