A small incision is made in the chest and the device is placed under the skin. This is attached to leads that are passed through a vein and positioned in the heart.
A pacemaker is a small device about the size of a matchbox or smaller that weighs 20 to 50g. It consists of a pulse generator, which has a battery and a tiny computer circuit, and 1 or more wires known as pacing leads, which attach to your heart. The pulse generator emits electrical impulses through the wires to your heart. The rate at which the electrical impulses are sent out is called the pacing rate.
Almost all modern pacemakers work on demand. This means they can be programmed to adjust the discharge rate in response to your body's needs. If the pacemaker senses that your heart has missed a beat or is beating too slowly, it sends signals at a steady rate. If it senses that your heart is beating normally by itself, it doesn't send out any signals. Most pacemakers have a special sensor that recognises body movement or your breathing rate. This allows them to speed up the discharge rate when you're active. Doctors describe this as rate responsive.
- You should be able to return to normal physical activities soon after surgery.
- As a precaution, it's usually recommended that strenuous activities are avoided for around 4 to 6 weeks after having a pacemaker fitted.
- After this, you should be able to do most activities and sports.
- You'll be able to feel the pacemaker, but you'll soon get used to it. It may seem a bit heavy at first, and may feel uncomfortable when you lie in certain positions.
- You'll need to attend regular check-ups to make sure your pacemaker is working properly. Most pacemakers store information about your natural heart rhythms.
- When you have follow-up appointments, your doctor can retrieve this information and use it to check how well your heart and the pacemaker are working.