Anytime your doctor recommends a surgical procedure, it’s normal to feel nervous and maybe to look for reasons you don’t need it or shouldn’t have it. However, physicians don’t generally recommend surgery without good reason, including having a pacemaker implanted.
The experts at Heart & Vascular Institute understand that any surgical procedure is nerve-wracking. But we also recognize some procedures, like getting a pacemaker, can extend your life, improve the quality of your life, and in some cases, even save your life.
What does a pacemaker do?
Your heart is often described as a pump, and that’s what it does, but it’s a little more complicated than most people realize. Your heart has four chambers, and they contract and relax in a particular rhythm. The rhythm is controlled by electrical impulses.
A pacemaker can send electrical signals when your heart’s electrical system doesn’t work as it should.
Who needs a pacemaker?
When your heart malfunctions, both the rhythm and speed of the beats of the four chambers can be affected. When your heart’s rhythm or rate is too fast, too slow, or erratic, it’s called an arrhythmia. There are several types of arrhythmias.
A pacemaker can correct the rate and rhythm of your heart by sending the proper electrical signals.
If you have heart failure, the chambers of your heart may get out of sync, or parts of your heart may not function as well as they should. A pacemaker can help by sending signals.
Some pacemakers also serve as implantable defibrillators and can shock your heart if you go into a state called ventricular tachycardia, which can be fatal. If you’ve had a heart attack, your risk of ventricular tachycardia is higher.
What are the day-to-day benefits of a pacemaker?
If you have untreated arrhythmia, your body and brain may not be getting the oxygen it needs because your heart isn’t pumping blood efficiently. You probably experience some uncomfortable symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, dizziness or light-headedness, or fainting.
A pacemaker helps with those symptoms by helping your heart beat in rhythm and at an appropriate rate.
If you have heart failure, a pacemaker can slow the progression of your disease. You may need to be hospitalized less often, and your heart may function better overall.
Finally, if you have a higher risk of ventricular tachycardia, a pacemaker could save your life. When you have ventricular tachycardia, you can go into ventricular fibrillation, which is when your ventricles get out of sync and contract erratically and fast.
Without immediate treatment it can cause sudden death. A pacemaker can provide that immediate treatment.
All surgeries pose risks, of course, and it’s important to discuss any concerns you have about risks with your provider. We’re always happy to answer your questions!
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of a pacemaker in the context of your own health, schedule an appointment at Heart & Vascular Institute. Call us at one of our three convenient locations, in Dearborn, Detroit, and Southfield, Michigan, or book your appointment online.