If you have heard your cardiologist talking about AFib, it simply means that your heart is beating out of rhythm. It is a condition in which the heart’s normal beating deviates, resulting in inadequate blood pumping. Fortunately, there are multiple solutions to cater to this; from medications to pacemakers, the range is quite wide. A pacemaker for AFib is not used unless you have a slow ventricular rate. Let’s get into the details.
How Is a Pacemaker Useful for AFib?
Starting with the basics, what causes abnormal rhythm in the first place? As mentioned earlier, in AFib, your heart starts to beat irregularly and faster/slower than normal due to the abnormal electrical signals sent to the upper chambers of your heart, also known as atria.
As soon as the signals malfunction, the upper and lower heart chambers no longer work in a symphony; this ultimately leads to inefficient blood flow overall. The main function of a pacemaker is to restore a normal heart rate/rhythm, and it does so by sending small electrical signals to your heart tissue.
Kinds of AFib That Require Pacemaker
Not every type of atrial fibrillation can benefit from this. Here are some conditions that a pacemaker can positively affect.
Pacemakers are used for AFib patients who have other heart rate issues, such as when it beats too slowly at a rate of under 60 beats per minute.
Some of the signs it shows include:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Excessive fatigue
- Breathing difficulties
- Exercise intolerance
- Mental Confusion
Atrioventricular (AV) Node Ablation and Pacemaker
It is a procedure that uses heat as a means to get rid of the AV node present between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, connecting their electrical systems.
AV node ablation procedure is sometimes an option to treat AFib. It stops irregular electrical signals from reaching the ventricles – lower chambers of the heart. However, there is a catch to it; destroying the AV node tissue will bar your heart from receiving electrical signals to pump. This is when a pacemaker is needed to provide these signals for your heart to work.
Life with a Pacemaker
Living with a pacemaker is not that difficult; however, one must be cautious since it is a sensitive electronic device. Here are a few things to keep in mind after you get a pacemaker to deal with your AFib.
- Keep a regular check on your heart rate using the guidelines from your cardiologist. You must have adequate knowledge regarding how fast or slow your heart should beat.
- Always remember to check your pulse as often as you are told. If, in any case, your heart goes off that range, call for help.
- Never skip your medications, and take them on schedule.
- Steer clear of a sedentary lifestyle. Actively go for walks and spend time on non-strenuous exercises or the ones instructed.
- Do not touch or put pressure where the pacemaker is.
If you have further questions regarding AFib or pacemakers, contact our cardiologist, Dr. M. Usman Khan, who was awarded fellowship status by the American College of Cardiology (ACP) at Epic Heart and Vascular Center. Call Houston at (832) 432-1951 or Willowbrook at (832) 952-1951 for help; we are here to assist you in all possible ways!