The heart is located in the center of the chest, enclosed by the breast bone and rib cage. By contracting in a rhythmic way, it causes the blood in your body to circulate.
A normally functioning heart beats at a rate of between 60 and 100 contractions per minute.
These contractions are triggered by a small piece of heart tissue called the SA node. The SA node generates a small electrical signal that is transmitted by nerves to the surrounding muscle. These electrical impulses are what cause the heart muscle to contract.
In some people, the SA node fails to cause the heart to contract with its normal rhythm, causing an abnormal heartbeat or arrhythmia. The most common form of arrhythmia, for which pacemaker surgery is often recommended, is bradyarrythymia - or slow heart rate.
There are a number of reasons why you may have developed an arrhythmia, but in most cases the problem is caused by a disruption in the SA node or in the system of nerves that conducts electrical signals to the heart muscle.
A pacemaker is a device that is designed to provide an electrical signal to the heart muscle and to help it maintain a proper rhythm. There are several types of pacemakers and the particular model selected for you will be based on your specific condition. But all pacemakers share a common design.
Your pacemaker will consist of two major pieces . . . a small metal box that contains a battery and other electronic components and an insulated wire, called a lead, which will carry the electrical impulses from the pacemaker to the heart.
Your pacemaker will be permanently implanted in your chest and, depending on your condition, either one or two leads will be attached to the heart muscle.