Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 20 May 2022
Table of contents
Pacemaker and Atrial Fibrillation
If you have atrial fibrillation (AF), it means that the electrical signals that control the pulse are malfunctioning. When pumping your blood, the four chambers within your heart get out of sync. To make your heart beat steadily or slow down a fast rhythm, your doctor can use prescription drugs or a medical procedure.
Your doctor may prescribe a pacemaker in addition to other treatments if you have AF and your heart is beating too slowly. It sends out electrical pulses to replace the jumbled ones, ensuring that your heart beats at the proper rate.
If you have AF and congestive heart failure, you will need a pacemaker. This occurs when the heart is unable to adequately pump blood to the rest of the body.
Atrioventricular (AV) Node Ablation
If medication and other treatments have failed, your doctor may suggest this procedure, which prevents abnormal electrical pulses from reaching your heart's two lower chambers, known as the ventricles.
A catheter will be inserted into your heart by your medical team. It will emit powerful radio waves, causing the small area that carries the signals to the ventricles to be destroyed by the sun. The AV node is the name for that field.
The normal electrical mechanism of your heart won't be able to stimulate your ventricles after that. As a result, the surgeon can implant a pacemaker to tell the ventricles when to pump.
The two upper chambers of your heart, known as the atria, will still have AF after this procedure. Since your blood can form clots that travel to your brain, this may increase your risk of having a stroke. To protect the blood from clotting, you'll probably need to take a blood thinner.
Sick Sinus Syndrome
The sinuses in your head have nothing to do with this disease. The name refers to the sinus node, which is a small part of your heart. It's the natural pacemaker of your heart. It sends electrical pulses to your heart to tell it to beat. Your pulse can be too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregular (arrhythmia) if the sinus node sends out signals at an incorrect rate. It may cause irregular heart rhythms, such as AF.
The majority of people with sick sinus syndrome need a pacemaker. A double chamber pacemaker is the kind that is most likely to support. It sends signals to two of the four chambers of your heart, instructing them on when to pump.
During minor surgery, the doctor will implant the pacemaker under your skin near your collarbone.
Living With a Pacemaker
If you have AF and have a pacemaker implanted to assist with a sluggish heart rate or congestive heart failure, it can even help you in other ways:
- When you change medications or have a medical operation, it can tell your doctor what's going on with your heart.
- It could help with AF symptoms if you have them.
- Scientists are working into whether a pacemaker could help prevent AF from reoccurring.
You must also do your part if you have a pacemaker:
- Keep track of your heart rate. Your doctor will send you instructions about how quickly or slow your heart can beat, as well as how this will affect your pacemaker. You should check your pulse as often as you're told. Call your doctor if your heart rate rises above that level.
- Take all your medications on time where possible.
- Stay active. Take walks or do whatever it is that you love. Your medical staff will assist you in determining the amount of exercise that is appropriate for you.
- Don’t put pressure to the area of your chest where your pacemaker is located.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for any signs that your pacemaker isn't working properly. If your ankles swell, see your doctor right away. If you have trouble breathing, are dizzy, or have fainted, dial 911.
Pacemaker Warnings and Safety
A pacemaker is a very delicate electronic device. If you have one, there are a few things to keep in mind so that it doesn't get messed up by other electrical devices..
- Home appliances normally don’t affect a pacemaker. It's fine to microwave your lunch, vacuum, or sleep with an electric blanket on.
- Your cell phone might not trigger any issues. Hold it on the side of your head opposite your pacemaker for extra protection.
- MP3 player headphones could contain a magnetic component that could cause your pacemaker to malfunction. Maintain a distance of a few inches between them and it. Do not place the headphones in your shirt pocket or around your neck.
- Metal detectors: Your pacemaker will be affected by the security checkpoints you pass through, so get through them as quickly as possible.Tell security staff you have a pacemaker if they want to search you with a handheld wand. They should not keep the wand in close proximity to the pacemaker for long periods of time.
Referenced on 17/4/2021
- Mayo Clinic: “Atrial fibrillation,” “Sick sinus syndrome,” “Bradycardia,” “Tachycardia,”
Cleveland Clinic: “Atrial Fibrillation (Afib): Treatment Options,” “Living with a Device.”
- University of Chicago Medicine: “Atrial Fibrillation.”
- American Family Physician: “Diagnosis and Treatment of Sick Sinus Syndrome.”
- Journal of Cardiology and Vascular Medicine: “Pacemaker Therapy in Atrial Fibrillation.”
- American Heart Association: “Living with a Pacemaker.”