Pacemakers are small, battery-powered devices that help control the heart’s rhythm and ensure that the heart pumps enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Some of these heart devices are surgically implanted under the skin of the chest and considered to be permanent, while others are external and used on a temporary basis while a patient is hospitalized.

At FMC Cardiology — Electrophysiology, Paul Z. Gerczuk, M.D. treats all types of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms). He often recommends temporary pacemakers for patients whose heartbeats have slowed down following a heart attack, surgery, or medication overdose. In certain cases, Dr. Gerczuk also implants permanent pacemakers to regulate a slow heartbeat (a condition known as bradycardia) or to help treat heart failure.

Most pacemakers consist of two parts: a generator and a series of tiny, insulated wires (also known leads or electrodes). The generator, which attaches to the heart through the leads, produces small, painless electrical impulses that flow through the electrodes to stimulate the heart muscle to contract. The impulses are timed to flow at regular intervals to replicate a natural heartbeat.

Rate-responsive models also contain sensors that continually monitor the body’s motion and breathing rate, signaling the generator to accelerate the heart rate during physical activity to meet the body’s increased need for blood and oxygen.

Some specific types of pacemakers include:

  • Single chamber pacemakers — Carry electrical impulses to the right ventricle of the heart
  • Dual chamber pacemakers — Carry electrical impulses to the right ventricle and right atrium of the heart to control the timing of the contractions between the two chambers
  • Biventricular pacemakers — Stimulate both the left and right ventricles of the heart to make it beat more efficiently (this type may be recommended if heart failure has resulted in damage to the heart’s electrical system)

Of course, every patient has unique needs based on his or her own heart health. Many entrust their care to Dr. Gerczuk, an experienced cardiac electrophysiologist who specializes exclusively in treating heart rhythm disorders. Through the use of individualized treatments, including medications, electrical cardioversion, ablation, and heart devices like pacemakers, he helps his patients achieve the best possible outcomes and quality of life. And, they are always treated in a compassionate and patient-centered environment.

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