Exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet can both contribute to better cardiovascular health. However, it is still possible to develop a heart condition, such as arrhythmia, even when you have taken steps to improve cardiovascular health. If you have an irregular heartbeat or your heart is not functioning efficiently, you might need a pacemaker. Dr. Ahmet Sayan, the experienced doctor at Virgin Islands Orthopaedics and Medical Specialists in St. Croix, and St. Thomas, can provide guidance for adjusting to life with a pacemaker.
What Are Pacemakers?
Pacemakers are small devices that are implanted in the chest to help regulate the heartbeat. They work by sending electrical pulses or signals to the heart that regulate the rate at which the heart beats. There are several types of pacemakers and each works slightly differently. Some pacemakers send pulses to both the right and left ventricles of the heart. Others only send pulses to the right ventricle, while another type sends pulses to the right ventricle and the right atrium.
In some cases, a pacemaker is only needed temporarily. For instance, a medication overdose, a heart attack, or surgery can all cause the heartbeat to slow down. A pacemaker can be used temporarily to help the heart start beating at a more efficient pace. When a slow or irregular heartbeat is an ongoing problem, then a pacemaker might be needed permanently. The knowledgeable doctors at our offices in St. Croix, and St. Thomas, can determine if you need a pacemaker temporarily or permanently.
Signs You Need A Pacemaker
There are several signs that the heart is beating irregularly or working inefficiently by beating too rapidly or too slowly. Symptoms associated with the need for a pacemaker include:
- Experiencing chest pains
- Regularly feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Palpitations or a pounding in your chest
- A diagnosis of bradycardia, which is a slow heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing not due to asthma or another condition
- Easily becoming extremely fatigued
- Fainting with no specific cause
Living With A Pacemaker
There are several things to know about living with a pacemaker. You can still be physically active, but need to avoid over-exerting yourself. Low impact activities, such as taking walks, are an excellent way to improve blood circulation without overdoing it physically. Something else to know is that it is perfectly fine to swim, shower or bathe as you normally do. The pacemaker will not get wet. You do need to avoid being near magnets or other devices that can interfere with the pacemaker.
Another thing to know about adjusting to life with a pacemaker is that your doctor might recommend you check your pulse regularly. Doing so lets you know if your pacemaker is working properly. Let your doctor know if your heart rate suddenly increases or drops too low. You should also contact the doctor if you experience dizzy spells, fainting, difficulty breathing, or your ankles and legs swell. The doctor might need to adjust your medications or check the pacemaker’s battery.
A pacemaker helps regulate your heartbeat and can reduce many of the symptoms that often accompany an irregular, slow, or rapid heartbeat. To learn more about pacemakers and adjusting to life with one, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sayan by calling Virgin Islands Orthopaedics and Medical Specialists in St. Croix, or St. Thomas, at (340) 692-5000, or (340) 714-2845.