What Is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is designed to treat a slow heartbeat.

When people refer to a pacemaker, they are actually discussing a pacing system: a pacemaker, a pacing lead or leads, and a programmer.

Two parts are placed inside the body: the pacemaker and pacing lead.

  • The pacemaker is a small metal case that contains electronic circuitry and a battery. The pacemaker continually monitors the heart and sends an electrical impulse to pace the heart when the heart’s own rhythm is interrupted, irregular, or too slow.
  • The pacing lead is an insulated wire that carries the tiny electrical impulse from the pacemaker to the heart to regulate the heart rate.
  • The third part, the programmer, is kept in a hospital or clinic. A nurse or doctor uses the specialised computer to see how the pacemaker is working and if necessary, to adjust the settings of a pacemaker.

The three parts of a pacing system work together to treat bradycardia (a heart rate that is too slow).

A pacing system increases the heart rate to meet the oxygen needs of the body.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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