When to Know if You Need a Pacemaker

Depending on age and health, the ideal resting heart rate for an adult ranges between 60 to 100 beats per minute. Typically the lower your resting pulse rate the better. However in some cases, a heart rate that’s irregular, too slow or too fast can cause complications. An irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmia occurs when the electrical signals that coordinate your heart’s beats don’t work correctly. An arrhythmia is one reason why you may need a pacemaker. While not all heart conditions are treated with pacemakers, there are telltale signs to indicate who needs one. Below our cardiologists share the most common signs you need a pacemaker

What Is a Pacemaker and What Does It Do?

As medical technology has advanced and evolved, cardiologists have a better understanding of how the heart works allowing them to design and create numerous treatment options to effectively control an irregular heartbeat. As a result, modern pacemakers used to treat arrhythmias and debilitating conditions can safely prolong your life and significantly improve its quality. 

A pacemaker is a small device that’s implanted in the chest area under the collarbone to help control the heartbeat. During a pacemaker procedure, small wires are advanced into the heart where their tips connect to the heart muscle. The other ends connect to the pacemaker unit. When the device senses an abnormality it sends electrical signals through the electrodes to your heart, jump-starting it back into an appropriate beat. Pacemakers only work when needed and can be programmed to act during episodes of bradycardia, atrial fibrillation or cardiac arrest. Depending on your condition you might have one of the following pacemaker devices:

  • Single chamber pacemaker – Carries electrical impulses to the right ventricle of the heart. 
  • Dual chamber pacemaker – Carries electrical impulses to the right ventricle and right atrium of the heart to control the timing of contractions between the two chambers. 
  • Biventricular pacemaker – A pacemaker for someone who has heart failure or heartbeat problems. It stimulates both of the lower heart chambers to make the heart beat more efficiently. 

An arrhythmia can be silent, meaning you don’t notice any symptoms, so it’s best to be correctly diagnosed by your doctor during a physical exam. Irregular heartbeat symptoms can include:

  • A fluttering in the chest
  • A racing heartbeat 
  • A slow heartbeat 
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting or near fainting

Signs You Need a Pacemaker

AMS cardiologists are experts in identifying heart conditions that will benefit from a pacemaker placement. Symptoms that could indicate pacemaker treatment include: 

  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded 
  • Heart palpitations or fluttering sensations
  • Muscle weakness in your arms and legs
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or chest pains
  • Unexplained fainting
  • Mental confusion
  • Pulse rate under 90

If you experience any of these symptoms, a further cardiac evaluation will be needed from your doctor to recommend the best treatment plan for you. 

Comprehensive Cardiovascular Treatments With AMS

Whether you’re displaying irregular heartbeat symptoms or want to schedule an appointment to see a preventative cardiologist, AMS has physicians in every cardiovascular specialty working to set the standard for prevention by offering the latest medications and heart disease procedures. Contact us at 215-517-1000 to set up an appointment with our doctors.

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