Pacemaker implantation to prevent abnormal heart rhythm

What is a pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a device which comprises a battery powered generator connected to leads which are sited within the heart in order to prevent it beating abnormally.

How does it work and what are the benefits?

The pacemaker detects abnormally slow or fast heart rhythms and can correct this, to prevent symptoms such as dizziness, breathlessness or palpitations. Pacemaker implantation entails inserting at least one pacemaker lead (a thin 2-3mm diameter cable) into the heart via an access to the veins beneath the collarbone. The lead is then connected to a generator (the size of a thin small matchbox) and this sits beneath the skin under the collarbone.

Who needs a pacemaker implantation?

Patients can require a pacemaker for various different health conditions. However, common reasons include:

  • A heart beat that is too fast or too slow
  • Have suffered from a cardiac arrest
  • Suffer from heart block 

How is the pacemaker implanted?

The pacemaker implantation will be performed by the Consultant Cardiologist. The procedure will be carried out under local anaesthetic through trans venous implantation. The consultant will make a small incision right underneath the collarbone and insert the wires of the pacemaker through a vein.

The wires will be guided along the vein through the right chamber and then lodged into the heart tissue.They will then be fitted into the pacemaker, placed by the consultant into a small pocket of skin in the upper chest.

After the procedure you will be kept under observation overnight.

How safe is the treatment?

The procedure of implanting has low complication rates. Some of the known risks are:

  • Blood clots
  • Pacemaker infection
  • Air leak
  • Problems with the pacemaker
  • Risk of moving it around unknowingly

Paying for your procedure

Pacemaker implantation costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation.

Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.

Want to look at other treatments? or find it on the A-Z list.