Some types of abnormal heart rates or rhythms can only be treated effectively with an artificial pacemaker. Many improvements in artificial pacemaker technology now make it possible to use the technology more broadly and safely and to tailor the device for individual needs. For example, the pacemaker may be used:
- Override an abnormal heart rate or rhythm
- Sense and supplement an abnormally slow heart rate
- Provide a temporary or interim therapy while other options are being evaluated
- Provide long-term correction of abnormal heart rhythms
New materials and significant miniaturization now offer a selection of pacemaker models that weigh only about 1 1/2 ounces and contain a lithium battery which can last up to 10 years. The pacemaker unit is implanted surgically beneath the skin just below the collarbone on the right side of the chest. Depending on the type of pacemaker inserted, one or two electrode wires are threaded through a large vessel to a position at a specific site within the heart. The pacemaker is then programmed according to your needs, and may be adjusted as needed from outside the skin.
Although the devices used today are very different from previous models, certain precautions are still important. For example, it is important to protect the pacemaker and insertion site from injury due to a hard blow to the chest or sustained, extreme pressure against the chest. And, while patients no longer have to worry about electrical interference from such appliances as microwave ovens, caution is still important when there may be exposure to:
- High voltage transmission lines and substations
- Arc welding
- Magnetic resonance imaging technology
Regional Medical Center of San Jose offers the MRI Safe Sure Scan Revo Pacemaker.