A pacemaker is a miniaturized computer device that is implanted underneath the skin in the chest area to monitor the heart’s rate (how fast it beats) and rhythm (the pattern in which it beats) and sends a tiny electrical pulse down a wire or wires into the heart to help it beat more regularly.

It is recommended for patients with arrhythmia. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. The heart can either be beating too quickly (tachycardia) or too slowly (bradycardia). During an arrhythmia, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue (tiredness), shortness of breath, or fainting. A pacemaker can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting and it also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle.

Permanent pacemaker implantation is a minor surgery performed under local anesthesia. The cardiologist will make a small incision in the upper chest area (approximately 4-6cm), just below the collarbone. One or two leads will be guided through a vein into the heart, and the leads will be connected to a pacemaker. The device will be programmed and tested to meet the medical needs.

The average battery life of a pacemaker device should last between 10 to 12 years. When the battery wears out, the pulse generator is replaced and existing leads that are still working will remain in the heart and connected to the new generator.

Patients with a pacemaker implanted need to attend regular check-ups to make sure the pacemaker is working properly and doctors are able to retrieve the information stored in the device to check how well the heart is working.