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Learning About a Biventricular Pacemaker

What is a biventricular pacemaker?

A biventricular pacemaker (say "by-ven-TRICK-yuh-ler") is a device used to treat heart failure. Treatment that uses this type of pacemaker is called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).

A pacemaker is a small device that is placed under the skin of your chest. It is powered by batteries. It has thin wires, called leads, that pass through a vein into your heart.

How is the device put in place?

You will get medicine before the procedure. This helps you relax and helps prevent pain.

The doctor makes a cut in the skin just below your collarbone. The cut may be on either side of your chest. The doctor will put the pacemaker leads through the cut.

The leads go into a large blood vessel in the upper chest. Then the doctor will guide the leads through the blood vessel into different chambers of the heart.

The doctor will place the pacemaker under the skin of your chest. The doctor will attach the leads to the pacemaker. Then the cut will be closed.

What can you expect when you have a biventricular pacemaker?

A pacemaker can help your heart pump blood better. It may help you feel better so you can be more active. It also may help keep you out of the hospital and help you live longer.

You can live a normal, active life with a pacemaker. But you'll need to use certain electric devices with caution. Some devices have a strong electromagnetic field. This field can keep your pacemaker from working right for a short time. These devices include things in your home, garage, or workplace. Check with your doctor about what you need to avoid and what you need to keep a short distance away from your pacemaker. Many household and office electronics don't affect your pacemaker.

Your doctor will check your pacemaker regularly to make sure it's working right. The battery may last about 10 years. If the battery gets low, you will need to decide whether to have another surgery to replace the pacemaker.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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