Cardiac pacemakers are used to treat a heart that beats too slowly. Sometimes the natural pacemaker of the heart becomes diseased and does not keep the heart beating regularly. The average heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. The normal heart can occasionally beat as slowly as 40 times a minute while resting and as fast as 200 times a minute while exercising. However there can be symptoms of weakness, dizziness and fainting when the heart beats to slowly. The heart may always be slow or there may be episodic pauses in the heartbeat that may lead to symptoms.
Your doctor may determine the need for a pacemaker after an EKG. Sometimes a recording of the EKG for an entire day is required; this is called a 24 hour Holter Monitor. Occasionally an EPS study may be needed to determine the need for a pacemaker.
Pacemakers are electronic clocks, which send a small current through a lead to stimulate the heart beat. There are two components to a pacemaker. The generator is the battery and the electronics. It is a small metal can, which is sealed. The generator is placed under the skin below the collarbone. It can be placed on the right side or the left side of the chest. Attached to the generator is one or two wires called leads. The leads travel through the veins to the heart and carry the small electrical current to the heart muscle.
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