The first pacemaker was implanted in a human being in 1958. That pacemaker implantation surgery was the first step in a long line of iterations of this tiny cardiovascular technology. That first patient had 26 pacemaker implantation procedures throughout his life because the batteries in the device didn’t tend to last very long. These days the technology is far more advanced, but the reasons that people undergo pacemaker implantation surgery have essentially stayed the same.
What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a small piece of equipment that helps your heart to maintain a regular rhythm. A normal consistent heartbeat is essential to making sure that your body functions properly and enough oxygen is pumped through your blood into your brain. When patients have irregular or weak heartbeats it can cause a lot of problems.
The pacemaker implantation surgery is relatively simple. A small incision is made in the upper chest and the device is slipped beneath the skin and chest muscle. A lead wire is then threaded through a vein into your heart and an electrode is planted inside the right ventricle. The other end of that wire is attached to the pulse generator which is the largest part of the pacemaker device. Some pacemakers are biventricular, meaning they have electrodes in both ventricles and the right atrium of the heart. After the pacemaker implantation is complete, the surgeon will close the small incision in your chest and you’ll be on the road to recovery. Pacemaker implantation is a relatively low-risk procedure and most patients return home on the same day.
If your cardiologist has mentioned to you a need for a pacemaker implantation procedure there is a good chance that you have one of these following conditions:
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is a term that refers to conditions that cause a narrowing of the arteries which lead to the heart. Heart disease is also known as cardiovascular disease. When a patient has suffered from heart disease for an extended period of time they will often sustain damage to their heart muscles. This same damage can also happen due to age, and in both cases can make it difficult for your heart to maintain its own steady beat. Patients with heart disease are sometimes given peacemakers to minimize their risk of a heart attack.
2. Heart Arrhythmia
Arrhythmia is a condition where a patient’s heart beats irregularly. In some cases the heart will be too fast, in other cases it’s too slow, and often it just beats irregularly. Fast and slow heartbeats are called tachycardia and bradycardia respectively, and all three of these issues are a sign of an electrical issue in the heart muscle. This issue may originate from heart disease, but in many cases, patients are born with arrhythmia. Pacemaker implantation surgery is an excellent tool for patients who have had little success in managing their irregular heartbeat. It can give a sense of confidence knowing that if the heart rate continues to beat irregularly there is a mechanical solution.
3. Congenital Defects
Often physical issues with the heart muscle are caused by heart disease or other lifestyle-related issues. When the body has to struggle to pump blood through clogged arteries it weakens the heart muscle and leads to heart disease. However many patients have congenital heart defects that caused the heart muscle to be weak from birth. Some common congenital defects are leaky valves, holes in the heart muscle, and defective blood vessels. With the marvel of modern medicine, these issues can often be detected in utero or right after birth. For patients whose congenital issues are not able to be repaired at a young age, pacemaker implantation surgery may be required as they get older.
4. Long QT Syndrome
Another heart rate related issue that may necessitate a pacemaker implantation surgery is called Long QT syndrome. Long QT is a condition that can cause irregular fast heartbeats in patients. This rapid change in pulse can trigger fainting, seizures, and even death often this condition is congenital but it can also be caused by medications or other conditions. The best way to control Long QT syndrome is through pacemaker implantation surgery.
Pacemaker implantation surgery is easy, safe, and allows heart patients the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life even in the midst of illness. If you have one of the conditions listed above you may be an excellent candidate for a pacemaker implantation surgery. Hopefully, by now, you have a relationship with a cardiologist you trust. If not, contact us today to meet one of the members of our cardiology team. Together we can diagnose your heart condition and recommend the treatment that will be most successful for you.