When people hear the word “pacemaker,” they often think of a frail, sick person on bedrest or confined to a limited life. Thinking that only sick people get pacemakers couldn’t be further from the truth, though: Famous entertainers, public figures, and even professional athletes have had pacemakers.
People with heart rhythm problems — even if they are otherwise healthy — can benefit greatly from pacemakers. If you exercise daily, eat healthy, and don’t have any known health problems, it’s possible that you need a pacemaker (and just don’t know it).
To find out if your symptoms might indicate the need for a pacemaker, visit us at the Vein, Heart and Vascular Institute. Led by Hesham Fakhri, MD, we provide comprehensive cardiovascular care. To get you started, here’s what we think you should know about pacemakers.
Why do people get pacemakers?
People get pacemakers for a variety of reasons, but the overarching reason for a pacemaker is an abnormal heart rhythm, which can be a condition in and of itself or an outcome of a primary condition.
At Vein, Heart and Vascular Institute, we may prescribe a pacemaker if you:
- Have a heart rate that’s abnormally low (bradycardia) or high (tachycardia)
- Take cardiovascular medications, such as beta blockers, that slow your heart rate
- Have sick sinus syndrome, a condition in which aging or heart disease has led to an abnormal heart rhythm
- Faint often
- Have had a heart attack or heart surgery
- Have heart muscle problems
- Have congenital heart disease
- Have had a heart transplant
How to tell if you need a pacemaker
Even though pacemakers are a big deal — after all, they can prevent heart failure — getting a pacemaker is not often top of mind, even when cardiovascular symptoms arise. It’s definitely possible to need a pacemaker and not know it.
But if you know the symptoms of abnormal heart rhythm and other heart conditions, you can look out for signs that may indicate you need a pacemaker, such as:
- Frequent fainting
- Inexplicable fatigue (you get enough sleep and stay healthy, yet always feel tired)
- Inability to exercise, even lightly, without getting very winded
- Frequent dizziness or lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations or sudden, intense pounding in your chest (without exercise)
If you’ve been diagnosed with bradycardia, sick sinus syndrome, or another condition that affects the way your heart beats, you may need a pacemaker. You may also need a pacemaker if you take medications that slow your heart rate.
What to expect with a pacemaker
In most cases, a pacemaker won’t affect your day-to-day life after you’ve recovered from the implant surgery. The biggest difference is that you need to see your surgeon regularly to make sure your pacemaker is working as it’s supposed to. Most patients can still exercise, even strenuously, though it’s best to get guidelines from Dr. Fakhri because each person’s case is different.
You should also let your other health care providers, including your dentist and primary care physician, know that you have a pacemaker. Certain medical procedures, such as MRIs, can disrupt your pacemaker.
To learn more about pacemakers and discover if you need one, schedule a consultation with Dr. Fakhri at Vein, Heart and Vascular Institute. Call either our Tampa or Wesley Chapel, Florida, location, or request an appointment through this website.