What is a pacemaker?

A pacemaker is used when the heart is damaged and requires assistance to continue to work properly. The pacemaker assists the electrical conduction system within the heart which controls heart muscle contractions.

A pacemaker is required for people who have a slow heart beat as a result of damage to the heart. Symptoms include breathlessness, dizziness, chest pain, collapse or blackout. One of the functions of the pacemaker is to shock the heart out of an abnormal rhythm when it occurs. Pacemakers are programmed to make the heart beat at a predetermined rate.

There are a range of different pacemakers available and your cardiologist will discuss which is most appropriate for your needs.

What does insertion of a pacemaker involve?

If you have any of the symptoms as described above, your first port of call is to visit your GP for a check-up. If necessary you will then be referred to a cardiologist in one of the specialist units around Ireland. The cardiologist will then make a diagnosis.

The cardiologist inserts the pacemaker under local anaesthetic in a procedure which takes about an hour. It is likely that you will only have to remain in hospital for one night. You will then have regular check-ups at the hospital to make sure the pacemaker is working properly.

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