If you’ve ever tuned in to your favorite guilty-pleasure medical drama, then you’ve likely heard of pacemakers. But what, exactly, do pacemakers do? And who needs them?
“Pacemakers generally make sure your heart doesn’t run too slowly,” said Kevin Maquiling, M.D., a medical specialist in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center.
Traditional pacemakers are small devices implanted just below the collarbone and connected through the veins to the heart with tiny wires to help the heart beat more regularly through electrical stimulations. The newest form of pacemaker now available at Maury Regional for the treatment of certain heart beat problems is so tiny it can be permanently implanted directly into the heart chamber through a temporary catheter inserted through the femoral vein in the groin area.
The reasons why someone might need a pacemaker vary — from age or genetic predispositions to damaged tissue around the heart — but there are a few symptoms that can indicate a possible need for a pacemaker:
- Heart palpitations
- Skipping or racing heart beat
- Fainting or passing out
- Severe fatigue
“Any of these symptoms could potentially be indicative of electrical problems of the heart,” Dr. Maquiling said.
He emphasized that individuals experiencing these symptoms should visit their general physician, who can order diagnostic tests or refer them to a cardiologist. Depending on their test results, they might receive a recommendation for a pacemaker or other interventional device.
“These symptoms can sometimes be benign but can sometimes be the sign of a more serious heart problem, so they need to be checked out,” Dr. Maquiling said.
Maury Regional Medical Center, an accredited chest pain center, performs pacemaker procedures in its Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, which eliminates the need for an operating room and expedites recovery time. It is the only lab of its kind in southern Middle Tennessee.
In addition to its work with pacemakers, Maury Regional Medical Center provides a number of interventional services, such as implanting internal cardiac defibrillators and completing angioplasty and stenting procedures. The facility also offers diagnostic testing, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and more.
Learn more about Maury Regional Health’s cardiac services at all our locations by visiting MauryRegional.com/Heart or by calling 931.381.1111.