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How do pacemakers treat abnormal heart rhythms?

Westby G. Fisher, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Pacemakers prevent the heart rate from going too slowly and keep the heart beating at a minimum heart rate. Some people have heart rhythms that go fast at times and very slow at times. For these people, sometimes a pacemaker is installed to support the slow rhythms so the doctor can add medications safely to treat the fast rhythms. If these same people cannot tolerate the medications to slow the heart rhythm after the pacemaker is in place, a cardiac electrophysiologist (a "heart electrician," if you will) will sometimes burn (ablate) the connection point between the upper and lower chambers of the heart so the fast upper chamber rhythms cannot drive the lower chambers too fast, thereby rendering the person pacemaker-dependent so the heart rhythm will be driven only by the pacemaker. This makes the heart rhythm perfectly regular and it should never race again.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.