Pacemaker: Heart Beat Monitor, Pacemaker implantation
What Is It?
Some patients experience arrhythmias in the heart which are abnormal rhythms in the heart. Normally there are cells in the heart that control how fast or slow the heart beats. Typically a heart beats somewhere between sixty and ninety beats each minute. When the heart doesn’t beat quickly enough a person can feel fatigued and dizzy and may faint. This is because enough blood is not circulating throughout the body.
When the heart beats to fast a person can also feel dizzy but have heart palpitations. The person may also perspire a great deal and feel short of breath. A pacemaker can help correct these problems. It is an electronic device that regulates the electronic impulses in the heart so the heart maintains a normal heart beat, eliminating the problems associated with irregular rhythms. It is often recommended to patients that experience severe problems associated with irregular heartbeats.
Usually the process of implanting a pacemaker is not an elaborate surgery. Typically a patient receives a sedative prior to surgery. A local anesthetic is usually applied to the area of entry. The doctor then places a large catheter needle into a vein in the body, often the shoulder, and uses that to thread the wires to the pacemaker into the heart.
Then the doctor uses special fluoroscopy or other imaging techniques to ensure the exact placement of the wires. An incision is then necessary in the chest where the pacemaker battery is placed under the skin and wires are connected to it. The incision is then closed and the patient sent to recovery.
Alternatives to Surgery
Many doctors will first try medications to help regulate the heart rate. There are medications that can slow the heart rate and medications that can increase the heart rate. Other factors can also influence hear rate including the balance of electrolytes in the body. Most of the time the heart rate is self regulating, meaning it is capable of resetting itself if it gets off rhythm. Many factors like diet and exercise sleep and stress levels can influence heart rate.
The autonomic nervous system or the “automatic” nervous system is responsible for maintaining heart rate. Sometimes when something happens to the central nervous system or autonomic nervous system heart rates can become irregular. Treating the cause of this problem may help relieve irregular heart rates. Sometimes breathing exercises and meditation exercises to help relieve stress can help influence heart rate and the side effects of autonomic dysfunctions.
Hormones can also regulate heart rate. Women and men both may notice regulation of certain hormonal irregularities can sometimes influence heart rate. These may include hormones like thyroid hormones. Most physicians will complete lab work to test for these irregularities and attempt to treat them to alleviate symptoms.
Before The Operation
Before the operation a physician will review your medical history and prepare you by having you sign a consent form. Patients will be provided with sedation and will require a ride home. The physician will also review medications and review the procedure. You will need to stay overnight so the medical team can make sure the pacemaker is working properly and there are no severe complications following surgery. The staff will also answer any questions you may have regarding surgery.
After The Operation
Most patients will remain in the hospital overnight so the doctors can monitor their heartbeat and so they can ensure the pacemaker works correctly. Patients typically require a ride home. It may take several weeks before the tenderness associated with surgery resides. Often placement of the pacemaker leaves the patient sore for some time.
You ay need to avoid any heavy exercises or lifting for up to one month after surgery depending on your overall health and wellness. Most patients can enjoy normal light duties within days of having their surgery.
Possible complications and risks of surgery may include bleeding and infection especially around the area where the pacemaker is placed. Some patients may experience damage to the blood vessels and nerves in this area. These may heal with time.
Other patients may have a rare complication such as a collapsed lung. There may be reactions to the medications used during surgery. These complications are often minimized with careful screening of patients prior to surgery.
Patients with pacemakers may need to be careful to avoid magnetic fields. There are several circumstances that can disrupt the pacemakers setting. Patients will need to avoid certain conditions or environments that may interfere with the pacemaker’s batter and settings. Some examples of conditions that may interfere with the pacemakers function include:
- MRI (short for magnetic resonance imagine) equipment, which contain large magnetic fields that can interfere with pacemakers
- Radiation used for treatment of cancer
- Short-wave microwave thermal treatments often used to treat arthritis, fractures and other inflammatory diseases
- Certain metal detectors that take advantage of metallic technologies
- Mattress pads and quilts that contain therapeutic metal pads
Patients with cell phones may also need to keep them an exact distance from their pacemaker to reduce interference with the equipment. While this interference is not permanent it can still result in problems. Many physicians recommend that patients wear an identity bracelet or some other form of identification that lets people know they wear a pacemaker to regulate their heart rate in the event of an emergency.
Estimated Costs for Pacemaker Surgery
The costs of a pacemaker often include the cost of the equipment and surgery, as well as a brief hospital stay to ensure the pacemaker is working properly. The exact price of the procedure may depend on many factors including the age of the person requiring surgery, their overall health and wellness, the location of surgery and independent risk factors.