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Pacemaker 101

Presented by Cardiovascular Clinic of West Tennessee

Pacemaker 101What is an artificial pacemaker?
A small battery-operated device that helps the heart beat in a regular rhythm. There are two parts: a generator and wires (leads).
• The generator is a small battery-powered unit.
• It produces the electrical impulses that stimulate your heart to beat.
• The generator may be implanted under your skin through a small incision.
• The generator is connected to your heart through tiny wires that are implanted at the same time.
• The impulses flow through these leads to your heart and are timed to flow at regular intervals just as impulses from your heart’s natural pacemaker would.
• Some pacemakers are external and temporary, not surgically implanted.

Why do I need one?
Your doctor may recommend an artificial pacemaker to make your heart beat more regularly if:
• Your heartbeat is too slow and often irregular.
• Your heartbeat is sometimes normal and sometimes too fast or too slow.

How does it work?
It replaces the heart’s defective natural pacemaker functions.
• The sinoatrial (SA) node or sinus node is the heart’s natural pacemaker. It’s a small mass of specialized cells in the top of the right atrium (upper chamber of the heart). It produces the electrical impulses that cause your heart to beat.
• A chamber of the heart contracts when an electrical impulse or signal moves across it. For the heart to beat properly, the signal must travel down a specific path to reach the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers).
• When the natural pacemaker is defective, the heartbeat may be too fast, too slow or irregular.
• Rhythm problems also can occur because of a blockage of your heart’s electrical pathways.
• The artificial pacemaker’s pulse generator sends electrical impulses to the heart to help it pump properly. An electrode is placed next to the heart wall and small electrical charges travel through the wire to the heart.
• Most pacemakers have a sensing mode that inhibits the pacemaker from sending impulses when the heartbeat is above a certain level. It allows the pacemaker to fire when the heartbeat is too slow. These are called demand pacemakers.

AHA Recommendation
If you have an artificial pacemaker, be aware of your surroundings and the devices that may interfere with pulse generators:

Home appliances
• CB radios, electric drills, electric blankets, electric shavers, ham radios, heating pads, metal detectors, microwave ovens, TV transmitters and remote control TV changers, in general, have not been shown to damage pacemaker pulse generators, change pacing rates or totally inhibit pacemaker output.
• Several of these devices have a remote potential to cause interference by occasionally inhibiting a single beat. However, most people can continue to use these devices without significant worry about damage or interference with their pacemakers.
• Power-generating equipment, arc welding equipment and powerful magnets (as in medical devices, heavy equipment or motors) can inhibit pulse generators. Patients who work with or near such equipment should know that their pacemakers may not work properly in those conditions.
Cell phones
• Cell phones available in the United States (less than 3 watts) don’t seem to damage pulse generators or affect how the pacemaker works.
• Technology is rapidly changing as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making new frequencies available. Newer cell phones using these new frequencies might make pacemakers less reliable. A group of cell phone companies is studying that possibility.

About Cardiovascular Clinic of West Tennessee
At the Cardiovascular Clinic of West Tennessee, our exceptionally talented team of cardiovascular professionals is focused on bringing high quality heart care to the West Tennessee community.

We provide comprehensive consultations and follow-up clinical evaluations for cardiac patients at convenient locations in the heart of Jackson and at our satellite locations. Your comprehensive clinical evaluation (incorporating the latest evidence-based clinical research data) is complimented by advanced sophisticated diagnostic services.

Cardiovascular Clinic of West Tennessee

2968 N. Highland Jackson, TN 38305
731-256-1819 or toll free 866-816-4786
www.cardiovascularclinicofwesttn.com

Clinic locations in Jackson, Huntingdon,
Martin and Trenton.
Clinic hours in Jackson are 8 am to 5 pm. Please call for satellite clinic hours.

We are accredited by the American College of Radiology.

Source: American Heart Association

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