A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device that helps control an abnormally slow heart rhythm. They use electrical pulses to “pace” the heart or prompt it to beat at a normal rate, which can relieve common symptoms such as fatigue and fainting. Permanent pacemakers are implanted under the skin of the chest with wires that are advanced into the heart under X-ray guidance. Temporary (external) pacemakers are often placed emergently with the hopes that the condition is temporary (taking too much medication, for example) and that permanent pacing can be avoided.
Similarly, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are used to monitor heart rate and rhythm in people who have had a heart attack or are at high risk for sudden cardiac death. Once implanted in the chest, the ICD is programmed to detect abnormal electrical activity in the heart and deliver a potentially life-saving shock if a dangerous rhythm is detected. While pacemakers and ICDs are similar, pacemakers only pace the heart while ICDs can also deliver shock therapy.
The physicians of Oklahoma Heart Institute are experienced at pacemaker and ICD implantation and maintenance. Each device is carefully chosen to ensure its specific features are tailored to the patient’s needs. In fact, many of our patients have received the very first implants of their kind in the world, providing them with the latest and most advanced technology available. Oklahoma Heart Institute’s Dysrhythmia and Pacemaker Clinic provides regular follow-up evaluations and care to ensure the devices function normally.