Permanent Pacemaker

If your heart is beating too slowly, this may cause you to have symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, black outs (also called syncope), shortness of breath, and fatigue. Your Cardiologist may recommend that you have a permanent pacemaker to improve these symptoms and allow you to regain your usual quality of life.

A permanent pacemaker consists of a "pulse generator" and one or more "pacing leads" that connect the pulse generator to the heart.

The pacemaker is essentially a sophisticated battery that is able to detect the electrical activity from your heart and monitor your heart rate. When the pacemaker recognises that your heart rate is too slow, it will apply a small electrical impulse to maintain your heart rate at an acceptable level.

Pacemaker implantation

Implantation of a permanent pacemaker is usually performed in a Cath Lab (“Catheterisation Suite” or “Angiography Suite”) under local anaesthetic and sedation. Sometimes a general anaesthetic may be required, but for most patients this is not necessary.

A small incision is made just below one of your collar bones. A needle puncture is then made into the vein (Subclavian vein) behind the collar bone. Through this needle puncture, one or more pacing leads are passed into the heart and attached inside once a satisfactory position has been achieved. The free end of the lead is then connected to the pulse generator and the wound sutured closed.

After the procedure, you will usually stay in hospital overnight for monitoring in the Cardiac Care Unit. Regular follow up of the pacemaker is then required to ensure it is functioning as expected and to monitor the battery life. Depending on the type of pacemaker and the frequency of impulses, your pacemaker battery could last as long as 10 years before needing replacement.

Appointments will be made for you to attend our Consulting Rooms for your pacemaker checks. Initially this will be about 4 weeks after the pacemaker was implanted. Subsequent checks are performed every 6-12 months, but more frequently, if necessary, as determined by your cardiologist. These pacemaker checks are conducted by a qualified technician and supervised by a cardiologist present at the time.

Your pacemaker may have remote monitoring capabilities, allowing monitoring of your pacemaker from your own home. This can provide your cardiologist with important information about your pacemaker, without the need for you to attend our rooms. This service is especially helpful for those patients who live far away or have difficulty in travelling.