How Do Different Pacemakers Work?

Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist, discusses how different pacemakers work.

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Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist, discusses how different pacemakers work.
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Featuring Dr. Kevin Pistawka, MD, FRCSC, Cardiologist

Duration: 1 minute, 51 seconds

This is a single chamber pacemaker.  

It’s got a single wire. It’s a relatively basic function. It paces the heart at a single speed, and what it’ll do is it has a little motion sensor in it, so it’s like a little jiggle box. So if the – you’re jiggling a bit the heart rate will go up naturally and it tries to mimic the normal increase in heart rate that we would see with exercise.  

So a simple pacemaker basic rate and allows you to go a little faster with exercise. A dual chamber pacemaker, however, a little fancier, it’s got two wires, and typically this is used in patients who have had a blockage occur between the upper and lower chambers.  

Now this is an electrical blockage, not a plumbing blockage that you’re thinking about.  Most people when they think of blockages they think of the plumbing and arteries.  

This is electrical block and what this device does is it basically allows us to reconnect the upper and lower chambers so that the priming pump and the ventricle, the main pump of the heart, the two of them are working in sync again.  

So we put a little wire in the atrium, one in the ventricle, and this battery again lasts 10 years typically, and will allow the heart to work in a more synchronous fashion, and usually it’ll just pick up the heart rate when it’s going a bit too slow.  

If there’s concerns about irregularity of the heart, the important thing is to go see your family doctor. He can go over the symptoms with you, decide whether you need further testing.  It may be as simple as doing an ECG. In some cases, we’ll ask patients to wear a 24-hour monitoring device so we can record the rhythm throughout the whole day.  

And usually between an ECG, a heart monitor, and occasionally a visit to emergency where we capture the heart rhythm, we can decide whether the rhythm is something that requires medications to slow it down or a pacemaker to speed it up.  

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Presenter: Dr. Kevin Pistawka, Cardiologist, Kelowna, BC

Local Practitioners: Cardiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.