A pacemaker is a device used to supplement the electrical activity of the heart in patients whose heart is not conducting correctly, i.e. their heart is beating too slowly, “bradycardia”. It generally does not provide benefit when the heart beats too quickly.
A Biventricular Pacemaker is a pacemaker that paces on both sides of the heart. In selected cases, resynchronising the heart in this fashion can improve cardiac function.
The pacemaker consists of two components, the generator, or battery, and the leads or wires. The generator is about the size of two stacked 50 cent coins and is implanted under the skin beneath your collarbone. This is connected to the leads or wires which rest inside your heart. The wire is very soft and flexible and can withstand the twisting and bending caused by body movements.
Fasting is required for 6 hours prior to the admission time. Blood thinning medication may need to be stopped a few days before the procedure; however, the cardiologist will advise on this. The patient can expect to be in hospital for 1-2 nights.
On your return to the cardiac care unit you will have your heart rhythm and blood pressure monitored. You will also have another ECG and chest X-ray. The wound site will be observed for swelling and bleeding. Pain relief for wound discomfort will be given if required.
You will be discharged when your cardiologist is happy with your progress, usually 1-3 days’ post operatively.
You will receive an information booklet after your procedure detailing information about living with a pacemaker.
Your doctor may recommend that you take and record your pulse often to gauge your heart rate. This allows both of you to compare your heart rate to your acceptable range to determine if your pacemaker is working effectively.
When taking your pulse at home, follow your doctor’s instructions about when to get in touch. In general, there’s no reason to contact your doctor unless:
Don’t worry if your heart is beating close to or within the intended heart rate, but has an occasional irregularity. It likely just means that your heart’s natural pacemaker is competing with the signals emitted by the artificial pacemaker. This occurs infrequently, but it’s normal.
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