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If there is a problem with the normal electrical conduction in your heart then you may need to have an artificial pacemaker fitted. You may need a pacemaker because of the following:

  • You have a particular type of heart block - a delay in the electrical conduction through the heart - that can make the heart beat too slowly.

  • Your heart beats too fast, which is not effectively controlled by medication.

  • You have heart failure, which may cause the heart to pump out of synch.

Modern pacemakers are very reliable and comfortable. Having a pacemaker can greatly improve people's quality of life and for some people it may be life saving. Most pacemakers are smaller than an average matchbox and weight about 20-50 grams. A pacemaker sits just under the collar bone and has one or more leads coming from it. The leads are placed into the heart via a vein. A pacemaker has a pulse generator - a battery powered electronic circuit - and one or more electrode leads. Generally pacemakers with one lead are called single chamber pacemakers, and those with two leads are called dual chamber pacemakers. A pacemaker with three leads is called a biventricular pacemaker.
The best pacemaker for you will depend on why you need to have the pacemaker.

How do pacemakers work?
The job of a pacemaker is to artificially take over the role of the heart's natural pacemaker. Electrical impulses are sent by the pacemaker to stimulate the heart to contract to produce a heartbeat. Most pacemakers work just when needed - on demand. Some pacemakers send out impulses all of the time - this is called fixed rate. Pacemakers do not give the heart an electrical shock.

How is a pacemaker fitted?
Pacemakers are inserted under local anaesthetic, but with sedation, so you will feel very sleepy. You will usually stay overnight in hospital and your pacemaker will be checked thoroughly before you leave. Serious complications from pacemakers are very unusual.

How quickly will I recover?
It is normal to feel tired for a few days afterwards but most people find that they are able to get back to their
normal lifestyle quickly. You are not allowed to drive a car for at least a week after your pacemaker implant.

      Doctor Tips
Angina is an uncomfortable feeling or pain in the chest.
It usually feels like a heaviness or tightness.
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