Pacemakers are often installed in people who are suffering from irregular heart rhythms. It is especially beneficial when that heart rhythm is irregular and slow. By adding an electrical impulse to the heart muscle when necessary, the heart rate is restored and blood circulates properly throughout the body. A successful installation can often completely eliminate the symptoms of bradycardia, relieving shortness of breath and chronic fatigue.
There are some advantages to having a pacemaker installed and there are some disadvantages that must be considered as well. Here is a look at the overall pros and cons of the procedure.
What Are the Pros of a Pacemaker?
1. Relief is almost immediate after the surgery has been completed.
People who have been suffering from bradycardia are often under a lot of physical stress because of their condition. They may not eat often, will have exercise intolerance, and may not even be able to drive. The pacemaker allows them to get their lives back on track right away because relief is experienced from the moment they wake up in the recovery room.
2. Pacemakers can be configured in a number of different ways.
Pacemakers can be programmed to control a wide variety of heartbeat issues that occur. They can help to beat the top heart chambers only, the bottom chambers, or both. Some pacemakers can even be programmed to stimulate both the left and right ventricles of the heart together.
3. They are a long-lasting device.
Most pacemakers are able to provide their needed therapy without maintenance for long periods of time. Only rarely are there wiring or battery failures that need to be addressed. Most of the risks that come with a pacemaker are due to the implantation surgery while the pacemaker is being placed. If that occurs successfully, almost all of the remainder of the risks are virtually eliminated.
4. Some models have electromagnetic resistance built into them.
Some of the newest models of pacemakers have countered the magnetic problems that have typically plagued this device. Although there are always going to be restrictions in place once the pacemaker has been installed, there are some devices that are safe in MRI machines and around certain appliances that could not be achieved in the past.
What Are the Cons of a Pacemaker?
1. People must avoid exposure to certain fields of energy.
Once a pacemaker is installed, magnetic and electromagnetic fields have to be avoided so that it will be able to continue to work properly. There will be a list of household appliances and tools which are allowed and disallowed that is provided to a patient after their surgery is successful. Even an unintentional failure to avoid appliances and devices that interfere with the pacemaker could have dire consequences.
2. Infection can happen after the surgery has been successful.
The surgery itself may be the cause of an infection that sets in around the pacemaker. An infection can also develop at the surgical site in the post-operation phase of recovery and then spread elsewhere in the body. A sensitivity to the materials that created the pacemaker may also lead to infection. Without treatment, these infections have the potential to be life-threatening.
3. The pacemaker may not work properly.
Pacemakers are very reliable after they’ve been installed and work consistently well for a majority of patients. There is a minority, however, that finds their pacemaker is not delivering the therapies that are required for proper health. When this occurs, a second surgery is necessary to replace the pacemaker so the proper therapy can be administered.
4. It does not treat heart disease.
The pacemaker is not a one-size-fits-all treatment solution for all heart problems. In particular it will not help to treat heart disease. Pacemakers may be installed after a heart attack to help control the rhythm of the heart muscle, but that won’t treat any underlying disease issues that may have contributed to the heart attack in the first place.
A Pacemaker Is Not a Cure.
It will not prevent a future heart attack or improve the foundations of cardiovascular health. It’s purpose is to treat an arrhythmia that is occurring with the heart’s beating cycle. In this it is effective, but it also means that there are certain conditions that cannot be treated by this device. This is why it is so important to go over all of the pros and cons of a pacemaker with a medical provider.