A heart pacemaker, or pacer, is a small device that is surgically placed in the chest to electrically stimulate or steady a heartbeat or re-start a heart that has arrested or stopped. Pacemakers have a battery, a computerized generator, and one to three wires with sensors (electrodes) at their ends. Implantation of the pacemaker takes minor surgery, usually performed in a special facility called an electrophysiology (EP) lab by a cardiologist. The patient is given medicine for relaxation and the chest area is numbed. The wires are inserted into a large vein with a needle and carefully guided to the appropriate heart chamber or chambers. The pacemaker "box" containing battery and generator is inserted through a small incision just under the skin of the chest. The device is connected under the skin to the wires and is programmed for the patient's correct pacing needs. Some devices may contain a cardiac defibrillator as well as a pacemaker. The test may take a few hours. Patients may be required to stay overnight in the hospital afterward. They may return to normal activity in a few days, but should stop vigorous activity and heavy lifting for about one month. Pacemakers of different types also are used for various non-cardiac diseases.
UAB Cardiovascular Institute delivers optimal patient care for heart rhythm disorders. You will be cared for by regional and world leaders in the treatment of heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, atrioventricular re-entrant tachycardia, and other heart rhythm abnormalities.
Our physicians evaluate the newest treatments and technologies and author professional publications that advance the field of arrhythmia treatment. Their extensive experience and academic backgrounds ensure that they are familiar with all types of heart rhythm disorders. Our academic medical center performs more than 600 heart rhythm-related procedures each year, and our success in treating all types of complex arrhythmias is well-documented. Our electrophysiologists have access to the UAB Cardiovascular Institute, one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast. It features the most advanced technology available, including four procedural suites dedicated to electrophysiology (the electrical signals in the heart). At UAB Medicine you are part of a program that carries out pioneering work in atrial fibrillation and advanced pacemaker and cardioverter defibrillator design.
Wade Gladden - Aortic Valve Stenosis
Understand the risk factors and symptoms of heart arrhythmias, and when it is important for you to see a doctor.
Arrhythmia Risk Factors, Symptoms, & Treatments
If you've ever felt your heart skip a beat, you may have an arrhythmia. Tom McElderry, MD, an arrhythmia specialist at UAB, talks to Daytime Alabama on WVTM-TV, Channel 13, in Birmingham, Ala., about the symptoms and risk factors of arrhythmia, and what to do if you or a loved one experiences this condition.
UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.View Clinical Trials
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UAB Cardiovascular Institute Awards & Recognition
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