As an adult, your heart’s resting rate should be between 60 to 100 beats every minute, depending on your health and age. If it goes any lower, you can easily develop complications as your body will be starved of oxygen and nutrients. A pacemaker can help make your heartbeat more steady, faster, or slower.
In the US, about 200,000 people get pacemaker implants annually. However, you need to know some vital details before getting one, such as its side effects, how it’s implanted, how it may change your life, and more. Here are some of the things to know about pacemakers.
It Requires Minor Surgery
Implanting a pacemaker usually takes about one or two hours. The medical experts will give you a sedative and anesthetic to relax you and numb the incision site. The surgeon makes an incision under the collarbone then guides a small wire through a vein into the heart.
They also use an x-ray machine for accuracy throughout the procedure. An electrode is then attached to the heart’s right ventricle, and a pulse generator also gets attached to the other end of the wire.
The generator contains the electrical circuits and the battery. The pacemaker should fire impulses once it detects the heartbeat is below the set number of beats. Before closing the incision, the doctor examines the pacemaker as a lack of proper testing may interfere with your heart rate.
It Takes About Eight Weeks To Fully Recover
After the pacemaker is implanted, the doctor highlights the precautions you need to take throughout the healing period. They can include:
- Raising your arm over the head
- Keeping the site of incision dry
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Quit smoking
- Change of diet
Some of these measures will determine the time it will take to recover fully. You will continue with your regular life activities as per the doctor’s instructions, such as traveling, working, driving, and exercising. However, every patient is different; thus, you need to tell the medical expert about yourself so that they can advise accordingly.
Check-Ups By Phone
Your doctor will schedule some follow-up appointments to examine the incision and placement of the device. After the check-ups, you can also monitor the pacemaker by phone through a programming device that sends signals to your cell phone. Other new pacemakers can be monitored remotely using smartphone apps.
Just like most drugs, having a pacemaker also comes with some side effects. Once the pacemaker gets inserted into your body, you may experience soreness or pain for a short while, but it shouldn’t last long. However, considering it’s a surgical process, you may expect some temporary complications such as:
- Blood clots
- Infection at the incision site
- Damaged blood vessels or nerves
Due to some of these possible risks, you need an experienced doctor for the operation. They should also share all these details with you before and after the procedure. Additionally, the doctor may restrict you from participating in contact sports as it may lead to a blow around your chest area.
It Needs A Replacement
How often the pacemaker sends electrical stimulations to the heart will determine how long the device lasts. The more frequently it does this, the more likely it is that the battery won’t last long. Once the pacemaker needs a battery replacement, the doctor will perform minor surgery to remove it and insert another generator. They will not interfere with the wires unless they malfunction or break.
For people experiencing arrhythmias, pacemakers can be a viable treatment. Remember, the surgical procedure needs a skilled and experienced doctor to avoid any problems. In case of incorrect implanting that causes harm, a patient can file a medical lawsuit against the medical provider.
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