Heart arrhythmias, which occur when your heart rate is too fast, too slow, or irregular, are often treated with a pacemaker or an implantable defibrillator. Akash Makkar, MD, and Mohamad Abdelrahman, MD, at Arizona Heart Arrhythmia Associates specialize in diagnosing arrhythmias and implanting these life-saving devices to restore a stable heart rate. If you have questions about your heart symptoms and whether you may need a pacemaker and defibrillator, schedule an appointment online or call one of the offices in Phoenix, Avondale, Tempe, Chandler, Sun City, Dewey, or Prescott Valley, Arizona, today.
A pacemaker is a small implanted device that monitors your heart rate and sends out an electrical impulse that triggers a muscle contraction when your heart rate is too slow or your heart skips a beat.
A slow heart rate, called bradycardia, is often caused by problems with the sinoatrial (SA) node. The SA node, the heart’s natural pacemaker, sends out regular electrical impulses needed to trigger each heartbeat.
Bradycardia may also develop if you have problems in the heart’s conduction pathways, damaged heart muscles, or hypothyroidism.
Arizona Heart Arrhythmia Associates implants two types of pacemakers: a traditional pacemaker and the innovative Micra™. They place a traditional pacemaker in your chest near the collarbone and then run lead wires from the device into your heart.
The Micra doesn’t need the wires because it’s placed directly into your heart. This miniaturized device, called the world’s smallest pacemaker, is only used for patients who need a single-chamber pacemaker.
An ICD is another type of device that sends an electrical impulse to restore a stable heartbeat. ICDs, however, are used to treat a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
ICDs are frequently used to regulate ventricular tachycardia, which is a dangerously fast heartbeat, and ventricular fibrillation. When you have ventricular fibrillation, your heart beats rapidly and erratically.
An ICD can prevent sudden cardiac arrest by sending out a stronger electrical impulse if the arrhythmia continues despite regular stimulation. Some ICDs also contain a pacemaker to regulate bradycardia.
Most ICDs are implanted in your chest with wires connecting the defibrillator to your heart. Some patients may be good candidates for another type called a subcutaneous ICD. This ICD goes under your armpit and connects to your breastbone, allowing it to send impulses without touching your heart.
When you have bradycardia, your brain and body don’t get enough oxygen. As a result, you develop symptoms such as:
Tachycardia may not cause noticeable symptoms, but if it does, you may experience all the same problems as bradycardia. Additionally, tachycardia may cause chest tightness, chest pain, and the sensation that your heart is fluttering in your chest.
If you develop arrhythmia symptoms or you can feel a change in your heart rhythm, call Arizona Heart Arrhythmia Associates or book an appointment online today to find out if a pacemaker and defibrillator are right for you.