Keeping the Rhythm: How Pacemakers Can Treat Irregular Heartbeats

print page Print

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the iconic 'Terminator' star and former California governor, recently joked that he's "a bit more of a machine" now that he's got a pacemaker keeping his heartbeat in check. It's a good reminder that even the toughest action heroes sometimes need a little extra support when it comes to their heart health. Electrophysiologist Jeffrey Fowler, MD, explains conditions where pacemakers may be beneficial and how they can help regulate heart rates.

Watch Video

How do I know if my heartbeat is irregular?

Overlake’s Electrophysiology Lab, or EP Lab, can diagnose and treat irregular heartbeats, also called arrhythmias. If an arrhythmia is confirmed, an electrophysiologist (heart rhythm specialist) will determine whether a medical or surgical method is needed. That may include medication, a procedure such as catheter ablation or a heart rhythm device, like a pacemaker.

Symptoms of serious arrhythmias include:

  • Recurrent palpitations (a feeling of skipped heartbeats or fluttering).
  • Pounding in your chest.
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed.
  • Fainting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Weakness or fatigue.

Why might I need a pacemaker?

An electrophysiologist may advise a pacemaker when your heart beats too slowly and this can't be fixed with other treatments. A pacemaker is a small device implanted in the chest to help you maintain a normal heart rate. Problems with the heart rhythm may mean your heart is not pumping enough blood to the body. If your heart rate is too slow, the blood is pumped too slowly. When the pacemaker detects that your heart rate is too slow, it sends a small electrical pulse to start or regulate your heartbeat.

You can feel confident that you will receive some of the nation’s best arrhythmia care at Overlake. We have an excellent track record of patient results, including fewer treatment complications, shorter hospital stays and lower hospital readmission rates than most other hospitals. Learn more >

Email icon
Sign Up for the Healthy Outlook eNewsletter