The Importance of Heart Pacemakers

Published: 13th May 2009
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Have you ever wondered how a pacemaker works? An artificial pacemaker is an electronic mechanism which is attached to the heart by small electrodes. The pacemaker is usually implanted through surgery, however temporary external pacemakers are available. The pacemaker sends an electrical pulse to the heart, which stimulates the heart to "beat." This is useful for people whose heart beats at an abnormal rate.

The purpose of a pacemaker is to make sure that the heart is beating at a proper, healthy rate. These devices are used if the heart's natural ability to regulate its beats is not working correctly. They may also be used if the electrical conduction of the heart is blocked in some way.

For more severe cases, technology has made it possible to combine a defibrillator into the electronic heart pacemaker unit. Modern medical and technological advances have also allowed pacemakers to be programmed externally by a specialist.

While experiments were taking place into pacemakers as far back as 1889, it was not until 1958 that an artificial and implantable pacemaker was first used. The first patient to receive the operation was Arne Larson who used twenty-two such apparatuses over the course of his life.

Surgery is required to implant the pacemaker, although it is generally a straightforward procedure. In most cases, a local anesthetic is given and an incision is made below the left collar bone, where the pacemaker is inserted and the electrode wires are attached to the heart using a fluoroscope. Afterward, the doctor usually prescribes antibiotics as a precaution against infection as a result of the surgery.

People who use an artificial heart pacemaker are required to have occasional checkups to make sure that everything is working correctly and to see if any adjustments may be required.


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