What is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a small battery-operated electronic device that helps to set and regulate the rhythm of the heart to a more regular pattern

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Normal physiology of the heart

The heart has its own pacemaker called the sinoatrial (SA) node, which lies at the top of the organ. The SA node generates a regular electrical impulse that travels across the heart muscles via nerves causing the muscles to contract and relax to form a heartbeat. This pumping of the heart maintains blood circulation throughout the body.

Pathology and need for a pacemaker

When the inbuilt pacemaker of the heart does not function adequately by itself, the circulation of blood is severely compromised. Therefore, the artificial pacemaker is implanted to help the heartbeat regularly.

The implanted pacemaker provides electrical stimulation to different parts of the heart to make it beat at a regular and controlled rate.

What is a pacemaker?

Procedure

The pacemaker is implanted underneath the chest skin just below the collar bone. It is then connected to the heart with tiny wires. The whole procedure takes around an hour to complete.

Sometimes the pacemaker may be needed for a short time, such as after a heart attack. In these cases, the pacemaker may be attached to the clothes rather than needing to be implanted under the skin.

The battery unit within a pacemaker is a metal box weighing between 20 and 50 grams. This battery is attached to wires or leads that connect it to the heart and has a lifespan of approximately 8 to 10 years.

In addition to the battery, the pacemaker is also comprised of a metal box that houses both the pulse generator and a computer circuit. The computer circuit converts any generated energy into electrical impulses that then travel via the wires to the heart.

References

Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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