Pacemaker Insertion

A pacemaker is a small battery operated device that helps your heartbeat normally.  The pacemaker resets the heart rate to an appropriate pace, ensuring adequate blood and oxygen reach the brain and other parts of the body.

Pacemakers are commonly used to treat patients whose heart beats too slowly; but, can also be used to regulate an abnormally high heart rate or to treat severe heart failure.

A pacemaker contains a powerful battery, electronic circuits, and computer memory that together generate electronic signals.  The signals, or pacing pulses, carry along thin, insulated wires, or leads.  The signals cause the heart muscle to begin the contractions that cause a heartbeat.

The pacemaker is programmed to stimulate the heart at a pre-determined rate, and settings can be adjusted at any time.  Routine evaluation, sometimes even via telephone, ensures the pacemaker is working properly and monitors battery life, which generally runs from five to ten years.

A permanent pacemaker insertion is a minor surgery and can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis.  Your doctor may perform the procedure in a hospital cath lab or outpatient surgical facility.

Pacemaker Insertion at San Tan Cardiovascular Center

You will be asked to not eat anything for 4 hours before your procedure. If you are on blood thinners, you will be asked to stop taking them for a specified period of time.

The patient is given a sedative through an IV to relax. The insertion site is cleaned and shaved.  In most cases, the pacemaker is inserted on the left side, beneath the skin on the front of the chest under the clavicle (collarbone). 

The patient is given a local anesthetic. The physician will make an incision on the chest wall just below the clavicle to create a small pocket, into which he or she places the pacemaker.  Wires attached to the pacemaker (pacemaker leads) are then passed through a vein in the upper chest and directed to the right ventricle and/or right atrium.  The leads, which stimulate the contractions of the heart, then attach to the inner surface of the heart chamber using small screws or tines. 

Following insertion, the skin is closed with sutures or staples.

You are required to keep the affected arm down by your side for 2 weeks. You are not allowed to raise your arm up. This allows the body to make scar tissue around the pacemaker leads and secure them in place. If you raise your arm up too soon, this could cause the leads to move out of position, resulting in another procedure to reposition the leads.

An overnight hospital stay sometimes may be necessary for the physician to confirm that the patient’s condition is stable and the pacemaker functioning. 

An x-ray and EKG help make sure the pacemaker and leads are in the proper location and working correctly.

You will be given more instructions upon discharge.

Your doctor will provide you with a device identification card to carry with you when you travel through airports or any other location that you require you to pass through a metal detector.

How do I get started?

Contact San Tan Cardiovascular Center today to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers.

At this appointment:

  • we will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a non-invasive, diagnostic test to further determine your medical condition,
  • any pertinent testing that needs to be done beforehand will also be ordered at this time.

Our billing department will then contact your health insurance company to obtain prior authorization.  Upon receiving insurance authorization, the procedure will be scheduled.