Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Cardiac Arrhythmia Pacemaker

Pacemakers are electronic devices that regulate the heart rate within a normal range.

Pacemakers require an electrical wire inserted into the heart. The wire is connected to an electronic device, which generates electrical impulses that stimulate the heart. Most pacemakers are placed under the skin.

Pacemaker Functions
All pacemakers do two things:

  • They sense the electrical signals from a normal heartbeat. As long as the heart is beating fast enough, nothing else happens.
  • The pacemaker sends a tiny electrical impulse to stimulate the heart to beat when the heart is beating too slowly.

Some pacemakers can shock the heart when a dangerous rhythm occurs. These are called implantable defibrillators.

Pacemaker Care
Home care includes:
  • Wear a Medic Alert bracelet, showing that you have a pacemaker.
  • Take acetaminophen for pain.
  • Magnets should be kept away from the chest.
  • The metal in a pacemaker may set off metal detectors in airport and other security stations. Keep your pacemaker wallet card with you at all times.

Pacemaker Warning Signs
If you have a pacemaker, call your doctor for:

Continue to Cardiac Arrhythmia Questions For Doctor

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cardiac Arrhythmia References
  1. Boullin J, Morgan JM. The development of cardiac rhythm. Heart. 2005 Jul;91(7):874-5. [15958352]
  2. Page RL. Clinical practice. Newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation. N Engl J Med. 2004 Dec 2;351(23):2408-16. [15575057]
  3. Rubart M, Zipes DP. Mechanisms of sudden cardiac death. J Clin Invest. 2005 Sep;115(9):2305-15. [16138184]
  4. Stieber J, Hofmann F, Ludwig A: Pacemaker channels and sinus node arrhythmia. Trends Cardiovasc Med 2004 Jan; 14(1): 23-8. [14720471]
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