A pacemaker is an electronic cardiac device that can perform a number of functions depending upon the individual patient’s needs. A pacemaker is most commonly used to prevent the heart rate from slowing, but can also optimise heart function or, in the case of an implantable defibrillator, deliver an electric shock directly to the heart in patients with dangerous heart rhythms.
Pacemaker implantation is performed in hospital. Patients receive an anaesthetic and typically wires are passed through the main vein under the left collarbone to the heart itself. These wires are then connected to the pacemaker box or generator. The wound is then closed.
Following pacemaker insertion patients stay in hospital overnight and the device is checked the following morning prior to discharge home. Patients also usually receive a home monitor that enables their device to be checked upon remotely for either routine review or if they or their doctor has any concerns about either their device or heart rhythm.
After a pacemaker implantation patients are advised to avoid significant movement of their arm and shoulder for a period of two weeks to enable the device and wires to settle in. Patients are also typically asked not to drive for a period of two weeks.