What is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker (or artificial pacemaker) is a medical device that uses electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contacting the heart muscles, to regulate the beating of the heart. The primary purpose of a pacemaker is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart’s native pacemaker is not fast enough, or there is a block in the heart’s electrical conduction system. Modern pacemakers are externally programmable and allow the cardiologist to select the optimum pacing modes for individual patients. Some combine a pacemaker and defibrillator in a single implantable device. Others have multiple electrodes stimulating differing positions within the heart to improve synchronisation of the ventricles(ventricles) of the heart.

How Does A Pacemaker Work?

Modern pacemakers usually have multiple functions. The most basic form monitors the heart’s native electrical rhythm. When the pacemaker does not detect a heartbeat within a normal beat-to-beat time period, it will stimulate the ventricle of the heart with a short low voltage pulse. This sensing and stimulating activity continues on a beat by beat basis. The more complex forms include the ability to sense and/or stimulate both the atrial and ventricular chambers.

An artificial pacemaker system has two parts: a generator and wires (leads). The generator is a tiny battery powered unit, producing electrical currents to stimulate the heart muscle to beat and to pump blood through the body. Small electrical wires are connected to the generator and they are inserted into the heart via a large vein. Electrical currents are fired from the generator to the heart, just in similar intervals as the heart would beat. The electrical impulse triggers the heart tissue to begin a heartbeat and to contract.  Most pacemakers only set in and work if they are needed, meaning that they don’t fire if the heart is beating regularly. If the heart is lowering its native heart rate the Pacemaker will pick that up and and starts firing electrical currents to the heart that triggers extra beats. It also means that if a Pacemaker senses a natural heart beat it stops firing electrical currents and lets the heart beat in its own rhythm and only ‘kicks’ in when the heart rate is lowered.

Please refer to the procedure

 Pacing generator or ‘Pacing Box’

Are There Any Complications?

All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for your loved one.

Any Questions?

Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.

All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff.

The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual Patient variation. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. INTENSIVE CARE HOTLINE attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual Patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.

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