A pacemaker is a small device that sends electronic impulses to restore the heart’s rhythm and maintain a regular heart rate. Pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias, which are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. During arrhythmias, the heart can beat too fast or too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. When the heart isn’t able to pump enough blood to the body it may cause symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and fainting. Severe arrhythmias can damage the body’s vital organs and may even cause loss of consciousness or death.
A heartbeat that beats faster than the normal 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest is called a tachycardia. There are normal rapid heartbeats called sinus tachycardia that people experience with excitement, anxiety, stress, or exercise. If the rapid heartbeat occurs while resting or without logical cause, it is considered abnormal.
A slow or irregular heart rhythm is commonly less than 60 beats per minute and is called bradycardia. At this rate, the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood through the body during normal activity or exercise.