When is a pacemaker needed?
The most common reason a pacemaker is needed for heartbeat that slows to an unhealthy rate, or bradycardia. A pacemaker resets the heart rate to an appropriate pace, ensuring adequate blood and oxygen are delivered to the brain and other parts of the body.
Three basic types of pacemakers exist to serve different purposes:
Single-Chamber Pacemakers – In a single-chamber pacemaker, only one wire (pacing lead) is placed into a chamber of the heart. Sometimes it is the upper chamber, or atrium. Other times it is the lower chamber, or ventricle.
Dual-Chamber Pacemakers – In dual-chamber pacemakers, wires are placed in two chambers of the heart. One lead paces the atrium and the other, the ventricle. This approach resembles the natural pacing of the heart. This type of pacemaker can coordinate functions between the atria and ventricles.
Rate-Responsive Pacemakers – These have sensors that automatically adjust to changes in a person’s physical activity.
Other Devices – Some devices, such as an implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), are designed primarily for other purposes and can function as a pacemaker in certain situations.