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Temporary Transvenous Pacemaker

A pacemaker is a small electronic device that keeps your heart beating at a regular rate. It can improve an irregular heartbeat when heart is beating too quickly (called tachycardia) or too slowly (called bradycardia).

Your heart releases electrical pulses that help the muscle contract and release blood. When your heart cannot regulate this function, a pacemaker provides the electrical charge - which you will not feel – to keep the heart contracting and pumping lifesaving blood throughout your body.

Some pacemakers are implanted into your chest to provide long-term benefits. In other cases, a pacemaker is only needed for a short time when the heart needs help in regulating its function. A temporary pacemaker is used in these instances, such as when you have a change in heart rate from open-heart surgery, heart attack, infection, medication or other issues. The pacemaker will stay in place until your heart rate is stabilized, typically for just a few days. If your symptoms do not improve, your cardiologist may recommend a permanent pacemaker be implanted.

Prior to the procedure, you will be given a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. Your skin will be cleaned and a numbing medication applied at the site where the catheter will be inserted. This is normally inserted in a neck or groin vein. Under X-ray guidance, your cardiologist will insert the catheter and wind it to the heart. Once in place, the needle is removed, leaving the wire in the heart. On the outside of your body, the wire is attached to the pacemaker, which will be placed in a pouch or attached to your hospital gown. The insertion site will be covered with a dressing to make sure it stays in place. Once the pacemaker and wire is connected, the device will automatically read your heart rate and send out impulses to adjust the rate to a normal pace.

How to prepare for a Temporary Transvenous Pacemaker procedure 

In many cases – like a heart attack or another cardiac emergency, you will not be able to prepare for the procedure. In some cases, you will be scheduled for the procedure.

Do not eat or drink after midnight on the evening before the procedure. Take your regular medications, but only have a small amount of water to take pills. If you take blood thinners or have diabetes, talk with your doctor about any special instructions.

Patients remain in the hospital until the pacemaker is removed. While you are in the hospital, your pacemaker will be either in a small pouch that attaches to your gown or secured to your arm. It is important that you do not pull on the wires. You will not be able to shower during this time, but you will be able to take a sponge bath. There may be other precautions based on your condition. Your cardiology team will discuss any other special steps you need to take to keep your temporary pacemaker working correctly during your stay.