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UT Southwestern Medical Center’s experienced cardiac surgeons implant pacemakers to treat patients with heart rhythm disorders and related conditions. 

By restoring proper heart rhythm, our specialized team is able to treat related conditions such as heart failure and fainting (syncope) spells. 

Pacemakers Restore Proper Heart Rhythm

If the heart doesn’t beat at the proper rate – typically 60 to 100 beats per minute – blood is not pumped properly throughout the body. 

A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device that is implanted under the skin near the heart to help regulate the heartbeat. 

About half the size of a deck of cards, a pacemaker mimics the heart’s natural pacemaker, which sends electrical impulses through the cardiac muscle to the heart chambers. These electrical signals make the chambers contract normally and pump blood effectively to the body. 

UT Southwestern is recognized as one of the nation’s leading heart disease treatment centers, with faculty in accredited, advanced cardiothoracic surgery and clinical cardiac electrophysiology training programs.

UT Southwestern is also home to a dedicated Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component of recovery and can prevent future heart disease. 

Conditions We Treat with Pacemakers

Pacemakers are used to treat heart rhythm disorders and related conditions such as:

Diagnostic Tests for Conditions that Require Pacemakers

To determine if a pacemaker is the appropriate treatment for a patient’s specific heart condition, a cardiologist will order electrophysiology tests to determine the cause and origin of the issue. 

These minimally invasive studies of the heart’s electrical activity and pathways might include:

  • Echocardiography (echo or cardiac ultrasound): Produces a moving picture of the heart, using a device called a transducer that is placed on the chest
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): Measures heart rate, heart rhythm, and strength of the heart’s electrical signals
  • Holter monitor: Records a continuous ECG of the heart's electrical activity using an external device worn by the patient
  • Stress testing: Evaluates cardiovascular health during exercise 

What to Expect

Pacemaker Surgery Preoperative Details

The surgeon provides specific instructions to the patient prior to the pacemaker surgery, discussing risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia. 

Patients also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to review their medical history. Patients should not eat after midnight the night before the surgery. 

On the day of surgery, the patient arrives at the hospital, registers, and changes into a hospital gown. A nurse reviews the patient’s charts to make sure there are no problems. 

The anesthesiologist then starts an IV, and the patient is taken to the operating room, where the surgeon verifies the patient’s name and procedure before any medication is given. Surgery will begin once the patient is under anesthesia. 

Pacemaker Surgery Postoperative Details

After surgery, patients are taken to the intensive care unit and monitored. Pain is likely, and pain medication is given as appropriate. Patients are typically on a respirator for up to one day to support their breathing. 

The length of the hospital stay depends on how quickly the patient recovers and can perform some physical activity.

Support Services

UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health. 

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease. 

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.