One of the most common diseases associated with mortality are cardiovascular problems. Due to the lack of physical activity, urbanized lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, lack of nutrition, and various other socio-economic conditions – cardiovascular problems have steeply risen. While there are multiple medical treatments available for heart problems, a pacemaker remains one of the most important advances in providing care for patients. A pacemaker is not merely a device that lowers heart problems but is also essential in retaining the patient’s peace of mind, ensuring them a quality of life and providing assurance of safety. Technically, a pacemaker is a device that continuously monitors the heartbeat to record any erratic movements and sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a healthy heart rate. Your doctor may recommend you a pacemaker in conditions such as arrhythmia, fainting spells and congestive heart failure. Depending on the severity of the heart problem, an appropriate pacemaker from the three types is recommended:
- Single chamber: Carries electrical impulses to the right ventricle
- Dual chamber: Carries electrical impulses to the right ventricle and atrium
- Biventricular: Corrects abnormal electrical systems by stimulating lower chambers of the heart.
A pacemaker is temporarily or permanently implanted (depending on patient’s condition) under the skin of the chest via a minor surgery. Pacemakers are usually fitted in about an hour but work for as long as eight to ten years, powered by a battery. With minor precautions and safety measures, a pacemaker grants you a second lease of life and functions effectively to provide you all the support needed. While living with a pacemaker could be slightly challenging at first for some patients due to mental expectations, minor change in quality of life, emotional disorders, and psycho-social compatibility issues – eventually the idea settles in. Though on the other hand, some patients might not feel any major change at all and continue swiftly with their everyday lives without stressing about the pacemaker.
Once the pacemaker is implanted, a patient might feel worried about safety measures, precautions, medications, change in lifestyle, and other perceived problems. Patients should, however, feel confident and free to ask all questions from the doctors and get clarifications on anything that could possibly cause trouble. As days’ advance, most patients might not even feel the presence of a pacemaker and go about their daily lives, without thinking about it. However, it is vital for the patients to understand that a certain change in their routine and lifestyle would be demanded by the pacemaker to keep the heart healthy.
While some patients might feel that they would need to refrain from physical activities post implantation of a pacemaker, it is not the case. Instead, being physically active is what is required, once eight to ten weeks post the pacemaker implantation have passed. During this time, the patient must allow the pacemaker to settle in, avoid sudden movements, and refrain from creating any pressure on the pacemaker. Once this term ends, your pacemaker will support you in carrying on all normal activities of a person your age.
For patients who fear the pacemaker safety, you must know that it is implanted in the chest and cannot be harmed unless specific actions directed specially for the cause are undertaken. So, you can take a shower, go swimming, and travel via car, train or flight – because the pacemaker is protected against all of it. Though one thing you must stay away from is strong magnetic force and electrical fields. Some patients also feel the need to restrain from sexual activity to avoid damaging the pacemaker but the case is not so. A pacemaker is a medical innovation that cures heart problems while maintaining a good quality of life; hence, sexual activities are completely allowed and one does not need to feel scared or stay troubled worrying about the pacemaker.
That said, a patient might sometimes feel the spotlight, when the security checks at various places – such as the malls, movie theatres, airports, etc. – detect the pacemaker in the security devices. Hence, it is advisable to make the security personnel aware of the pacemaker in advance and also mentally prepare yourself for the entire process. You might even be asked to go through a different security check but one must not let it bother.
While living with a pacemaker, you do not have be alert and vigilant always. You can let your guards down and need not doubt everything that you are likely indulge in. While precaution is always advisable, it is still more strengthening to get all information needed beforehand and once thorough the process, aim to spend a quality life.
Further, it is vital to check with the doctor periodically to assess the pacemaker functioning. The patient should not neglect any medications or specific alterations in lifestyle suggested by the doctor. More so, it is always recommended that one must carry a pacemaker ID as it helps in cases of accidents, diagnosis, medical examinations, etc.
Even after so many successful implantations, a pacemaker still remains a grey area for many patients; however, it is one the most important medical advancements that not only assures fit survival but also help retain a quality of life. A pacemaker is a second strike at life.