ANNOUNCER: A pacemaker is a battery-operated device that is implanted in the chest to help the heart pump blood more effectively. There are different kinds of pacemakers, and it's important to know what they are and what conditions they are used for.
JAMIE B. CONTI, MD: There are a variety of pacemakers that are available. There are single-chamber pacemakers, which means a pacemaker with one wire. Those are used in patients who rarely have a problem, but occasionally need a little bit of extra help keeping their heart rate up.
There are two-chamber pacemakers, which are used for people who in general need considerable support of their heart rate with a pacemaker, and one of those wires goes in the top chamber, the atrium; the other wire goes in the bottom chamber, the ventricle.
There are also three-lead pacemakers that are relatively new. Those are used to treat congestive heart failure. One of those leads goes in the atrium, the top chamber. The second lead goes in the right ventricle, which is one of the bottom chambers. And the third lead goes through a vein that wraps around the heart and can pace the left ventricle and thus help us with our treatments of congestive heart failure.
Once you have a pacemaker, it is important to follow up with your physician on a routine basis. We need to see our patients physically in our office at least once a year, and then we check their pacemaker over the telephone at a set schedule, depending on how old the pacemaker is. The older it gets, the more frequently we check it so that we know when the battery needs to be changed.