Pacemakers for Atrial Fibrillation

Medication and surgical techniques are used to treat atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm, to reduce AFib episodes, and the risk of stroke caused by blood clots. People sometimes inquire as to whether or not a pacemaker may be used to treat AFib. While pacemakers are not often the first line of defense against atrial fibrillation, they are occasionally required for effective therapy.

To prevent the heartbeat from becoming too slow, a pacemaker is implanted permanently and powered by a battery (bradycardia). Suppose the dual chamber pacemaker determines that the heart rate is too low. In that case, it will send electrical impulses to the correct upper (atrium) and/or lower (ventricle) chambers of the heart. The pacemaker leads link the pacemaker pulse generator to nature, where the impulses are administered. A pacemaker's "pulse generator" is a tiny metal box housing the pacemaker's "brain," a small microprocessor, and a battery. The pulse generator is often placed subcutaneously in the upper left chest.

A pacemaker is implanted in the body and continually monitors the heart's intrinsic, natural electrical conduction. It will deliver an electrical impulse to the heart if it detects that the signals are not being sent at the appropriate intervals. Typically, pacemakers are set to prevent a heart rate below 60 beats per minute.

Is a Pacemaker Always Necessary?

If bradycardia is causing symptoms, a pacemaker should be considered. With this condition, the individual's heart rate is abnormally slow, and they exhibit symptoms indicative of this condition. The symptoms of symptomatic bradycardia include weakness, inability to exercise, dizziness, and even fainting.

When Treating Atrial Fibrillation, is a Pacemaker an Option?

Atrial fibrillation is not the only indication for pacemaker implantation. A pacemaker isn't always essential to treat atrial fibrillation, although it might be helpful if there are other reasons to have one, including symptomatic bradycardia.

Should a Pacemaker be Used for Atrial Fibrillation?

Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is characterized by episodes of irregular cardiac rhythm. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is associated with symptomatic bradycardia on occasion. When this occurs, a person's heart rate may be speedy while experiencing AFib and very sluggish otherwise. Because of this, treating AFib may be difficult since it may be necessary to employ rate-controlling and/or antiarrhythmic drugs to lower the heart rate or reduce the frequency of AFib episodes. Nevertheless, AFib medicines may cause a dangerously low heart rate in patients with symptomatic bradycardia. Hence, the patient's access to AFib treatment drugs is constrained by the bradycardia's accompanying symptoms.

Symptomatic bradycardia is characterized by abnormally low heart rates and may occur as a result of pharmaceutical side effects or as a result of electrical cardiac dysfunction. A pacemaker is necessary when atrial fibrillation is accompanied by bradycardia that causes symptoms. This is true whether the bradycardia is caused by the drugs used to treat atrial fibrillation or by the heart's intrinsic pacemaker failing to work correctly.

When Someone has Atrial Fibrillation, how can a Pacemaker help?

Patients with atrial fibrillation and bradycardia who need to take drugs to manage their condition may do so with the help of a pacemaker, which keeps their heart rhythms from dropping too low. A pacemaker is not a treatment for Afib, although it may be essential for properly managing the condition.

Patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation may benefit from using pacemakers because they allow for more accurate titration of AFib medicines and sometimes lower the frequency of atrial fibrillation episodes. Several pacemakers have been developed with specialized algorithms for treating atrial fibrillation. These algorithms try to recognize anomalies in electrical conduction that have been linked to AFib risk.

Premature atrial contractions are early beats that may occur singly and be a precursor to paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The pacemaker may be set up to run a predetermined algorithm whenever it detects premature atrial contractions. During an episode of AFib, this feature increases the heart rate for a short period to reset the conduction in the heart's upper chambers. Several initiatives help reduce the prevalence of atrial fibrillation in specific populations.

In Cases of Atrial Fibrillation, what Kind of Pacemaker is Implanted?

Patients with bradycardia and atrial fibrillation symptoms are treated with a dual-chamber pacemaker. The right atrium and/or ventricle may receive an electrical impulse from this device. A single-chamber pacemaker may be recommended for symptomatic bradycardia and persistent atrial fibrillation since it only requires a lead in the right ventricle. A pacemaker with just one chamber is the exception rather than the norm.

When a Pacemaker is Required to treat Atrial Fibrillation, how long does it take for the Patient to Feel Better?

Implanting a permanent pacemaker requires medical intervention. A patient may be discharged the same day or spend the night in the hospital. Those who have had pacemakers implanted report feeling substantially better quickly. This is because they no longer exhibit symptomatic bradycardia due to abnormally low heart rates. Lifting will be limited as the pacemaker leads heal into the cardiac muscle; this might take a few months.

The Typical Lifespan of a Pacemaker is Between 5 and 7 Years

Depending on the model, a pacemaker's battery may live anywhere from five to fifteen years. The battery life will be affected by the frequency of the patient's cardiac pacing needs. An individual whose heart is paced by a pacemaker just 25% of the time will have a longer battery life than someone whose heart is paced 75% of the time. The doctor will replace the generator with a brand new one when the battery has to be changed. Leads connecting the generator to the heart seldom wear out and never need replacement. A generator swap entails nothing more than detaching the leads from the old generator and reconnecting them to the new one.

How Long do you Think Someone With a Pacemaker Will Live?

Placing a pacemaker in a patient successfully treats their bradycardia. The life expectancy of people who acquire symptomatic bradycardia after receiving a pacemaker is often equivalent to their life expectancy before the onset of symptoms. Because a pacemaker does not cure atrial fibrillation, the condition must be treated, and the risk of stroke must be managed to increase the patient's life expectancy and quality of life.

Updated on: 07-Apr-2023


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