A pacemaker is a small device implanted in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms if it is beating too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). It uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.
If the heart is beating too fast or too slow, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. This can cause symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or evening fainting. Severe irregular heart rhythms can damage the body’s vital organs because of the lack of oxygen and may even cause loss of consciousness or death.
A pacemaker can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting. A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle.
The procedure to implant a pacemaker is usually quick. It does not require open-heart surgery, and most people go home within 24 hours. Before the surgery, medication is usually given to make you sleepy and comfortable. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia.
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