From an interview with
Dr. Prabal Guha, Electrophysiologist
McLeod Cardiology Associates
If you or a relative is expecting to have a pacemaker implanted, here is a useful explanation from McLeod Electrophysiologist Dr. Prabal Guha.
Her is a summary of Dr. Guha’s comments:
The normal heart has a built-in electrical system that acts like a pacemaker. If the body’s pacemaker goes bad, an implantable device can help regulate the heart rhythm. A pacemaker is that external device that we implant to keep the heart rate from going too slow.
Your heart runs on electricity. There is the body’s equivalent of a generator, a relay station and electrical wires. The generator fires, the relay station picks it up and transmits the electricity to the rest of the heart, allowing the heart to beat. It maintains the heart rate, usually anywhere from 40 beats a minute to 100 beats a minute. Yet, sometimes the body’s system malfunctions. This makes the heart slow down. People can get very tired, dizzy or even pass out. In these patients, we put in a pacemaker to prevent the heart from slowing down.
The pacemaker is an electrical device and used to be very big. The modern ones are small and implanted on the chest wall, just under the skin. It is run through the blood vessel inside the heart. The other end connects to the pacemaker.
Some patients require medications for treatment of other diseases, but those medications can slow the heart down. We implant a pacemaker so that they can get treatment for the other diseases and continue with medications.
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