We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Pacemaker?

By R. Kayne
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A pacemaker is a medical device that keeps the heart beating normally, commonly implanted in patients with bradycardia. Bradycardia causes an unusually slow or irregular heartbeat.

In a healthy heart, the beat begins in the right atrium or upper chamber as an electrical impulse. This impulse travels through the heart tissues to the ventricle or lower chambers. Here the heart muscles contract in response to the beat, pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body and lung tissues. If blood is pumped too slowly for the body's needs, dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting can occur. A pacemaker alleviates this problem by regulating the heartbeat.

A pacemaker is a small, battery operated, titanium device with one or more highly flexible pacing leads. It is implanted in the chest area with the lead(s) running down to the heart. A lead might be inserted into a vein that feeds into the desired chamber, or it might be affixed to the outside of the heart if the heart is still growing as in the case of children. The tip of the lead is fitted with an electrode and the device contains a computerized program that can stimulate a heartbeat through sending a pacing pulse to the electrode.

Bradycardia can manifest in one of two ways that might affect the type of device used. In some cases, the heart's own pacemaker -- the sinus node -- simply does not generate enough beats per minute, creating low blood pressure and an abnormally slow heartbeat. This is known as sick sinus syndrome.

In other patients, only some of the heartbeats that are generated reach the ventricle chamber, and thus no blood is pumped for the missed beat. This condition is known as heart block and can be caused by scar tissue, heart disease or other abnormalities that interfere with the travel of the impulse, creating an irregular heartbeat.

If bradycardia is present as one of the above conditions, a single-chamber pacemaker might be used to stimulate the faulty chamber. If both sick sinus syndrome and heart block are present, a double-chamber pacemaker can be used to generate beats in the atrium and initiate contraction for pumping blood in the ventricle.

An external programming unit retained by the physician can communicate with the device during checkups. Information about the condition and health of the heart can be relayed and the pacemaker's internal program can be altered as necessary without surgery.

These devices have been used since the 1950s and come in various models. Older styles were designed to deliver beats at a predetermined rate. Other models use sensors that monitor the heart, only generating a pace or beat when the heart's own beat becomes too slow or irregular. Dual-chamber pacemakers monitor both upper and lower chambers, ensuring they remain synchronized in a natural rhythm. The most advanced devices are rate-responsive. These monitor the body's needs so that the heartbeat quickens on demand —- say for strenuous exercise —- and automatically slows when the body is at rest and demands are low.

A pacemaker can make life immeasurably better for someone living with bradycardia, allowing an active life without feeling tired or lacking in energy. With advanced technology in micro circuitry, these devices are becoming smaller and more powerful. Speak to your physician about the options available for your specific needs.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Feb 20, 2014

@pleonasm - By the time they are at the point where they think it's a good idea to put in a pacemaker, there really isn't going to be any other choice. And I'm not sure how they could study the long term effects ethically, because there would be no way to have an ethical control group without possibly condemning some people to living without a pacemaker, which can mean great discomfort or death.

Maybe it does eventually encourage the heart to stop working, but the hearts of pacemaker patients are already going that way. The pacemaker procedure has saved so many lives including those of a lot of people I know, that I don't think it matters. It is a long term solution that works.

By pleonasm — On Feb 19, 2014

@croydon - I wonder if they have ever done any studies on whether or not having a pacemaker actually trains the heart to stop working on its own. It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case, which is a bit frightening really because no matter how wonderful the pacemaker is, you still have to get it checked and have the batteries changed every now and then, so you're basically dependent on the doctor for that.

By croydon — On Feb 18, 2014

My mother was fitted for a cardiac pacemaker a couple of years ago. It made such a huge difference it was amazing. She had thought that she was just getting really unfit because she couldn't walk up a hill without having to stop to catch her breath multiple times. But when she finally went to the doctor about it they told her it was actually a symptom of heart problems, rather than fitness.

They still don't know why it happened in the first place, but I'm so glad they diagnosed it early before it became a serious problem. They've tried turning it off a couple of times recently and my mother basically fainted because her heart just can't beat on its own any longer.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.