Just try placing your hands over your heart. You can feel your heart beating, is it not? Have you ever thought how your heart works? Our heart started to beat when we were just 4 weeks old inside our mother’s womb, and it will continue to beat till our last breath.
What makes our heart to beat?
There is a group of cells that is located in the wall of the right atrium of the heart. These cells are called as a sinoatrial node or SA node. These cells produce electrical impulse which will make the heart to beat. Purkinje fibers will carry this electrical impulse to different parts of the heart. This results in normal heart beats.
A Pulse rate of a healthy heart lies between 60 to 100 beats per minute, this ensures there is enough blood flow throughout the body. This count differs with different activities and different emotions we go through. For example, pulse rate will reach its peak when we involve in sports or while we get angry. And it lies at the normal rate when we are calm and composed. Apart from this, there are medicines that could increase and lower the pulse rate.
Our pulse rate will be lowered if for some reason SA node doesn’t produce enough electrical impulse. Also, our pulse rate will be increased if there is an excess production of the electrical impulses. Both are dangerous. Improper heartbeat can lead to improper blood flow, and it can get fatal.
Pacemaker to the rescue
A pacemaker is usually used in patients who have low pulse rate. Pacemaker ensures the heart beats are back to normal levels. Since this takes the job of SA node and does its work through artificial means, its also called as “Artificial Pacemaker”.
Its size is almost equal to that of a matchbox. It weighs only 30 grams. It contains a battery, generator that produces electrical impulse, electrical circuits, and wires that carry these electrical impulses to the heart.
This will be implanted in patients chest near clavicle through surgery. Wires in this pacemaker will be inserted into heart through the carotid vein. This functions much like a clock. This pacemaker can be programmed with needed pulse rate. By doing this patient’s heart beats will be restored to normal.
What are the disadvantages?
There will always be a feeling like something is always pressed against the chest. There are possibilities for infections where its wires are placed. Diabetes patients, in particular, are more vulnerable to this problem. These wires might get detached from the heart. The battery in this pacemaker only lasts up to 10 years at the most. After this period batteries need to be changed. People with pacemaker implants cannot undergo MRI scans to detect other diseases.
The Wireless pacemaker was invented Dr.Vivek Reddy in NewYork. This version overcomes the problems of the previous pacemaker. This one doesn’t have any wires or generators.
How it differs from Old Pacemakers?
Previous pacemakers are placed in the chest, but this one is placed directly in the heart. This one doesn’t have any wires. Instead, there is a watch-like mechanism that is placed inside this device. Spring in this device will be keyed using the heart muscle movements. The spring starts to relax once it’s completely keyed. This makes the battery inside pacemaker to work. This is similar to the working of a wrist watch which needs to be keyed regularly, to make it work.
Just like before battery supplies the electrical impulses to the heart to make it work normally. Using old pacemakers would require the patients to undergo surgery once in every 5 to 10 years to replace its batteries. But this is not required here. Once it is placed in the heart, it will continue to function till our last breath.
But wait there is a much more advanced pacemaker that came into existence just recently.
This is invented with advancements in the field of medical science and medical engineering. This pacemaker looks just like a capsule and weighs only 2 grams. It only has a generator and has no wires. It doesn’t require any open heart surgery to fix it inside the heart.
Capsule pacemaker can be placed directly in the right ventricle of the heart using the blood vessel in the leg. Four tentacles on the device will cling to the heart walls. This can be programmed to make the heart beat at certain pulse rate. So it operates the heart accordingly. It works for more than 10 years. Since it is only manufactured in western countries, its bit expensive for patients in the eastern countries. It costs as much as $12,000 in India.
Who needs this?
Patients who cannot undergo any open heart surgery owing to their poor health condition. Patients who need emergency pacemaker implant Having this implant do not block the patient from having MRI scan for other diseases. Since this is implanted without any surgical procedures, it is totally painless. Most metropolitan and cosmopolitans cities have access to this device.