Heart Pacemaker: purpose, types, and responsibilities
Article by Aziza Awate
November 18, 2017
To you all,
First of all, I am glad that I am back after being out of the country for more than 6 months. It is comforting to be reunited with my family. I hope each one of you are doing well and are in good health. With that said, I am so excited to be back on track, and to resume writing about health-related issues. It is my fervent hope that you can benefit from reading this, and can apply it to your daily activities. This month I decided to write about heart disease and some of the devices that are used to sustain life when the heart gets in trouble. Why this topic? This is a topic that affects a lot of Eritreans (including members of my family). Eritreans are hard workers, and when we have a health-related issue we seem to take time until it exacerbates and forces us to slow down both physically and emotionally. When this occurs, it becomes a matter of survival, where there is no positive way around it. Among us there are some outstanding intellectuals of whom we can infer so much advice and education and we are very grateful for that. As a health care professional, I would like to share what I know, and I am very open for any input, any positive criticism and feedback because we all learn from each other as we progress forward. So please, whenever I send something to be shared, please send your comments and I will welcome them. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
Pacemaker: a life saving device
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) the human heart beats an average of 60 to 100 times a minute. The heart has a natural pacemaker-a special group of cells that send electrical impulses over the heart and keep it beating at an appropriate and regular rate. (JAMA, 2001). However, if your heart beats too slowly to meet the needs of your body you may need an artificial medical device which is called a pacemaker. (Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA, 2001) “Pacemakers are complex devices and therefore require careful follow-up after they are inserted. An artificial pacemaker is a small battery-operated device that helps the heart beat at the correct rate. It sends electrical impulses to the heart through a wire(s), replacing the function of your natural pacemaker” (JAMA,2001).
Who needs a Pacemaker?
Someone whose heart beats too slowly, causing symptoms such as excessive fatigue, severe dizziness, fainting spells, or someone who needs to maintain a minimal heart rate after treatment for a rapid, irregular heart rate (JAMA 2001).
-Chest pain or discomfort
-Trouble catching your breath
-Symptoms of heart failure such as rapid weight gain and swelling in your feet, legs, or abdomen (JAMA 2001)
Types of Pacemakers:
“Permanent or internal, pacemakers are placed under the skin, usually in the loose tissues of the chest wall below the clavicle (collarbone). They turn themselves off when your heartbeat is faster than a certain speed and turn themselves on when your heartbeat is slower than a certain speed. A physician needs to periodically check the pacemaker batteries and perform a simple surgery to replace them when they are low in batteries last an average of 4 to 8 years” (JAMA 2001).
“Temporary, or external, pacemakers are used for a limited period and are worn outside of the body clipped to a belt or pants. Only the wire(s)and electrodes) are surgically implemented in the chest by a simple surgical procedure” (JAMA 2001).
Responsibilities of having a pacemaker:
*If you travel and go through security and metal detectors notify security staff that you have a pacemaker
*When using your cell phone hold the cell phone on the opposite side and eliminate the use of cellphone/Mp3 player in a shirt pocket
*Stay at least 2 feet away from industrial welders and electrical generators
*Know that some medical procedures can disrupt your pace maker such as Magnetic resonance imaging(MRI)
*Let all of doctors, dentists and medical technicians know you have a pacemaker. Your doctor will give you a card that states what kind of pacemaker you have and carry that card in your wallet.
know that in most cases, having a pacemaker won’t limit you from doing sports and exercises.
*Carry a card with you indicating that you have a pacemaker
*Eat a balanced and nutritious diet
*Get adequate rest /sleep 8 or more hours @ night
A Pacemaker is a vital device that helps the heart, but it cannot do all the work. It is up to the individual to make it effective by taking all required precautions to ensure that the pacemaker functions properly. For those who have a pacemaker, it makes a difference.
In addition to this topic, let’s talk about men’s health issues:
Like women and children, men also need to pay attention to their health because there are many disease entities that affect their health such as: prostate cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Also, there are additional health risk factors that can be induced through lifestyle by making unhealthy or risky choices such as: smoking and drinking, and putting off regular checkups/medical care. Knowing and understanding disease and health risks are paramount. On the other hand, trying to prevent it from advancing is the right approach. Screening tests are an effective method for early diagnosis. Early diagnosis of the disease is much easier to tackle and treat, and increases the individuals chance to having better health and living a longer life (Kumlien et al, 2008).
Statistics and new data from research are pinpointing vital information on the different aspect of different type of diseases that can affect men’s health. In addition to the diseases mentioned above, “heart disease is the number one health threat along with cancer, other injuries, Stroke COPD, flu, suicide, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s (Kumlien et al, 2008).
Along with kidney disease in men, it is worth mentioning that due to the enlarged prostate in elderly men, those elderly men seem to suffer from urinary retention. Urinary retention is defined as “The inability or failure to empty the bladder completely; Urinary retention is classified as either acute or chronic (Newman).
Acuter urinary retention is the “inability to void despite the presence of urine in the bladder and the desire and having the urge sensation to urinate” (Newman). It is usually preceded by a history of progressively decreasing force of voided stream” Common causative agents of this can be surgery related, benign prostate, prostate cancer, urethral structure, bladder, neck contracture, bladder tumor, urethral polyp, urinary meatal stenosis and constipation. If this cannot be treated on time, it may lead to acute renal failure or bladder rupture. Research and expertise indicate that the incidence of acute urinary retention varies significantly between men and women as it is less common in women. “It is estimated that 10% of men in their seventies and a third in their eighties will have urinary retention” (Newman).
Chronic urinary retention is “characterized by an ongoing inability to completely empty the bladder by micturition” (Newman). In many cases the individual tries to urinate, but this urination is experienced with struggling and resistance. This also characterized by urinary retention, both acute and chronic, and is frequently associated with some form of bladder outlet obstruction. This often occurs in middle-aged and older men with pre-existing history of bladder dysfunction. Some of the signs and symptoms are severely marked by low or decreased urinary stream, hesitancy, nocturnal, and dribbling.
Additionally, individuals who live with this medical issue may also suffer from urinary incontinence (Kumlien et al, 2008). The authors also state “The dearth of evidence-based interventions a focus on containment and social continence and to adapt appropriate bladder rehabilitation needs systematically assessment, identify types of urinary incontinence and to adapt appropriate urinary continence promoting practice” (Kumlien et al, 2008).
The bottom line to remember is that these disease identities can possibly be fatal. It is vital to have an effective systemic approach to identify types or causes of diseases and to implement a plan of care to reduce the devastating effects of that disease. Early assessment and diagnosis can make a difference and save lives. As a result, those individuals can have normalcy in their daily lives, and would be able to continue living healthier and longer lives.
Please take care of yourselves, and if you see any changes in your health please seek medical advice as soon as possible.