February is American Heart Month and February 14th is Valentines Day. It seems all things heart-related happen this month. In recognition, we’re spotlighting the pacemaker, a small medical device that controls the pace of a beating heart and movement of blood throughout the body.
Before we get into the making of the pacemaker, let’s talk quickly about the way a pacemaker works and the components that help it do its job. Although pacemakers are widely believed to regulate your heart, they actually regulate your electrical system and your electrical system ultimately controls your heart rhythm. With each heartbeat, an electrical impulse travel from the top of your heart to the bottom of your heart, triggering the contraction of your muscles and creating your pulse.
Pacemakers are implanted into your chest, abdomen, or shoulder. When doing so, surgeons connect the pacemaker via wires inside your veins. The wires often have electrodes. These electrodes are either inside your heart’s chambers or placed directly on the surface of your heart. Some hearts require a two-wire pacemaker while others require a one-wire pacemaker. What’s a wire, though?
Pacemakers consist of two main parts: the pulse generator and the wire or wires (lead or leads).
Additionally, most pacemakers also have an electrode at the end of the wires. The pulse generator does just that – generates a pulse/electrical signal through the use of a connector, electronic circuitry, and a battery. Wires or leads send these electronic signals to your heart.
How to make a pacemaker?
Simply put, manufactures assemble pacemakers with their preferred component pieces. The steps below outline the assembly process:
- Gather components: battery, wires, motherboard (circuitry), electrodes, and titanium casing
- Connect the motherboard to the battery
- Insert the connected motherboard and battery into titanium casing
- Place a fitting onto the casing to create a connecting point for the wires
- Inspect, inspect, inspect – before, during, and after
- Perform electronic and environment testing – before, during, and after
That’s it! For such an amazing piece of equipment, it all seems rather simple, doesn’t it? However, it’s not. Pacemakers (and medical devices as a whole) and their individual components are highly-regulated and repeatedly tested. They must meet a variety of standards. Let’s be glad, considering the all-important job a pacemaker has! And if you can, practice the following Heart Healthy Tips & Tricks!
Happy American Heart Month!
Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach