Why do I need one? A pacemaker is usually recommended for patients with an abnormally slow heartbeat (also known as bradycardia). When your heart beat is less than 60 beats per minute, it is usually considered irregular, and your body may experience fainting, dizziness, shortness of breath, or fatigue. A pacemaker can be inserted and programmed to keep the heart beating at a normal rate so that you may continue your every day activities without experiencing these symptoms.
A pacemaker consists of two parts that are placed inside the body: The pacemaker itself, and a pacing lead. A pacemaker is a small device that is placed under the skin usually as an outpatient procedure at the hospital, and the patient can go home the same day. A pacing lead is a wire that carries a tiny electrical pulse to the heart. The pacing lead is guided through a vein into the heart and a "pocket" is created under the skin where the pacemaker is placed and the lead is connected. The incision site may be red and swollen for a few days after surgery, but this is normal. There will be a slight bulge at the pacemaker site after insertion, but after the site has healed, the swelling, and redness should disappear. If it does not, you should contact your physician immediately.
You will be given a pacemaker ID card that will identify you as a pacemaker wearer. This card has important information about the type of pacemaker you have. It is important that you keep this with you at all times!
Pacemaker follow-ups are very important! This is how your physician monitors how your pacemaker is functioning. This can be done in your doctors office and also by telephone. The frequency of monitoring changes during the lifetime of your pacemaker with more frequent checks as your pacemaker nears the expected time of replacement. The average life of a pacemaker is six years.