Do You Have a Regular Heartbeat? What Happens If You Don’t? Discover How Pacemakers Can Help

Featuring SJMC Electrophysiologist, Dr Koh Kok Wei on SoyaCincau

Pacemaker, a small device to treat arrhythmia Malaysia

The Importance of a Healthy Heartbeat | Your Heart Health Matters

Our hearts beat to keep us and every organ in our bodies alive and healthy, much like how a tiny motherboard powers up our electronic devices. This is why it’s crucial to keep our hearts in top condition and beating strong. For those who may not be aware, our heartbeat follows a specific rhythm, which helps doctors determine if our hearts are healthy. When the heart beats irregularly, it can lead to a condition known as Arrhythmia.

What is Arrhythmia and how Pacemaker help to regulate heartbeat?

In an interview with SoyaCincau, Dr Koh Kok Wei,  a cardiologist specialising in the electrophysiology of the heart at Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC), explained the details of arrhythmia. 

A healthy human heart beats about 60 times a minute at rest, maintaining a steady rhythm. This rhythm is regulated by the heart's natural pacemaker, known as the sinus node. The sinus node is a small cluster of specialised cells located at the top of the right atrium, and it produces the electrical impulses that cause the heart to beat.

When the sinus node sends out an electrical impulse, it travels across the atria, causing them to contract and produce the "lub" sound you hear. The impulse then pauses at the atrioventricular (AV) node, located between the atria and ventricles, before moving to the ventricles, causing them to contract and produce the "dub" sound.

However, if the sinus node is damaged or other atrial tissues generate errant electrical impulses, the heart can develop an abnormal rhythm known as arrhythmia. Arrhythmias fall into three main categories: abnormally slow heartbeat (bradycardia), fast heartbeat (tachycardia), and irregular heartbeat.

A slow heartbeat is called bradycardia, a fast heartbeat is called tachycardia, and an example of an irregular heartbeat is atrial fibrillation (AFib). While bradycardia and tachycardia are straightforward, AFib is more complex. It occurs in the atria, the upper chambers of the heart, particularly the right atrium.

During the atrium fibrillation (AFib), the right atrium's muscles quiver or "shiver," causing them to partially contract up to 600 times per minute. This leads to a chaotic and irregular beating of the atria, which becomes out of sync with the ventricles, and the lower chambers of the heart.

Causes of Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia often results from other heart-related diseases, such as a heart attack. It can also develop congenitally or be hereditary. Often, arrhythmia is part of the ageing process. As we age, heart tissues degrade and die because they cannot regenerate healthy cells. This degeneration can lead to arrhythmia, with individuals over the age of 65 at a higher risk, though it can occur in younger people as well.

Pacemakers: Essential Devices for a Regular Heartbeat

Pacemakers are small, sophisticated devices that play a crucial role in managing heart rhythm disorders. These life-saving implants are designed to monitor and regulate the heartbeat, ensuring that the heart maintains a steady and appropriate rhythm. For patients with arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), such as bradycardia (slow heartbeat) or heart block, pacemakers can be the key to restoring normal cardiac function and improving overall health.

The Life-Changing Benefits of a Pacemaker

The installation of a pacemaker can bring about significant long-term health benefits for patients with heart rhythm disorders. By maintaining a consistent heartbeat, pacemakers help prevent symptoms associated with irregular heart rhythms, such as fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. This improvement in cardiac function can lead to increased energy levels, better exercise tolerance, and a reduced risk of fainting or falling.

Moreover, pacemakers play a vital role in preventing more serious complications that can arise from untreated arrhythmias. These devices can help reduce the risk of stroke, heart failure, and sudden cardiac arrest, ultimately extending and improving the patient's quality of life. Pacemakers’ recipients will be more confident in performing their daily activities with a renewed sense of independence.

Pacemaker Surgery in Malaysia: What You Should Know

Pacemaker surgery is a relatively straightforward procedure that typically takes 1-2 hours to complete. At Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC), the process begins with a thorough pre-operative assessment to ensure the patient is suitable for the procedure. The surgery is performed under local anaesthesia, with the pacemaker being implanted beneath the skin, usually just below the collarbone.

SJMC is renowned for its expertise in cardiac care and pacemaker implantation. The hospital's team of experienced cardiologists utilises state-of-the-art technology to ensure optimal outcomes for patients. With a track record of successful pacemaker surgeries and comprehensive post-operative care, it stands out as a leading institution for heart rhythm management in Malaysia.

Patients considering pacemaker surgery can trust the medical centre's commitment to excellence, personalised care, and advanced treatment options. The combination of cutting-edge technology and skilled healthcare professionals ensures that patients receive the highest standard of care throughout the journey of getting a pacemaker.

Maintaining a Healthy Heart

While ageing can lead to arrhythmia, neglecting heart health can cause it even earlier. High blood pressure (hypertension) forces the heart to pump harder to circulate blood through the body.

Another condition, known as valve regurgitation or "leaky valve," occurs when one of the heart's valves doesn’t close properly, allowing blood to flow backwards instead of forward. This makes the heart work overtime to maintain proper blood circulation.

Over time, this extra strain can cause the heart to enlarge, become overworked, develop scarring (fibrosis), and eventually lead to arrhythmia.

During a heart attack, the blood supply to parts of the heart muscle is cut off, causing those areas to die. Unlike other tissues, heart tissue cannot regenerate, leading to permanent scarring and weakening of the heart.

In summary, any heart issues can increase the risk of developing arrhythmia, including conditions like myocarditis, which is inflammation caused by an infection. Maintaining a healthy heart is crucial in preventing these complications.

Source: SoyaCincau