Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Select An Article

Abnormal Heart Rhythms and Pacemakers

Font Size
A
A
A

The normal, healthy heart has its own pacemaker that regulates the rate that the heart beats.

However, some hearts don't beat regularly. A pacemaker can sometimes correct the problem. A pacemaker is a small device that sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and rhythm. A pacemaker may also be used to treat fainting spells (syncope), congestive heart failure, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Recommended Related to Heart Disease

Heart Disease and Antioxidants

Getting antioxidants from foods is a great part of a heart-friendly diet. You'll get plenty from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts. You'll also get fiber and great taste. That's a win-win plan. If you're thinking about taking antioxidant supplements, that's not the same thing. "Vitamin or mineral supplements aren't a substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and dietary cholesterol," the American Heart Association's...

Read the Heart Disease and Antioxidants article > >

Pacemakers are implanted just under the skin of the chest during a minor surgical procedure.

The pacemaker has two parts: the leads and a pulse generator. The pulse generator houses the battery and a tiny computer, and resides just under the skin of the chest. The leads are wires that are threaded through the veins into the heart and implanted into the heart muscle. They send impulses from the pulse generator to the heart muscle, as well as sense the heart's electrical activity.

Each impulse causes the heart to contract. The pacemaker may have one to three leads, depending on the type of pacemaker needed to treat your heart problem.

There are different types of pacemakers:

  • Single-chamber pacemakers use one lead in the upper chamber (atria) or lower chamber (ventricles) of the right side of the heart.
  • Dual-chamber pacemakers use one lead in the right atrium and one lead in the right ventricle of your heart.
  • Biventricular pacemakers use three leads: one placed in the right atrium, one placed in the right ventricle, and one placed in the left ventricle (via the coronary sinus vein).

Your doctor will decide what type of pacemaker you need based on your heart condition.

The doctor programs the minimum heart rate. When your heart rate drops below that set rate, your pacemaker generates (fires) an electrical impulse that passes through the lead to the heart muscle. This causes the heart muscle to contract, creating a heartbeat.

Pacemakers are also used to treat the following:

  • Bradyarrythmias, which are slow heart rhythms that may arise from disease in the heart's electrical conduction system (such as the SA node, AV node, or HIS-Purkinje system).
  • Heart failure. This type of treatment is called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) or biventricular pacing.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Syncope (fainting spells).

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
 
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
 
empty football helmet
Article
red wine
Video
 
eating blueberries
Article
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
SLIDESHOW
Omega 3 Sources
SLIDESHOW
 
Salt Shockers
SLIDESHOW
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW