What is a pacemaker?

Every year more than 60,000 people are treated for a slow heart rate or bradycardia. Bradycardia is usually treated with a pacemaker. The pacemaker will alter the heart rate when this is necessary to meet your body’s needs. To do this, the pacemaker emits stimuli that are similar to the heart’s normal signals.

Types of pacemakers

There are two different types of pacemakers:

Traditional pacemaker

How is a traditional pacemaker put in place?

  1. The procedure takes a maximum of one and a half hours and there are few risks.
  2. The pacemaker, which is no bigger than a wristwatch, is inserted under local anaesthetic through a small opening underneath the collarbone. The pacemaker is placed in a kind of sachet underneath the skin.
  3. The conducting leads are advanced to the heart via a large blood vessel. Before connecting them to the pacemaker, a number of measurements are carried out to check their position.


  • The average lifetime of a pacemaker battery is at least six years.
  • You need to come in regularly for a check-up with your cardiologist.


Wireless pacemaker

Traditionally pacemakers are implanted in the chest using leads that go to the heart. Wireless pacemakers are the newest and smallest pacemakers. They are about the size of a large vitamin capsule and they are placed directly in the patient’s heart via a catheter in the groin.

Advantages of wireless pacemakers

Using a wireless pacemaker offers a number of advantages:

  • It’s a less invasive procedure.
  • No incision in the chest and therefore no scar.
  • No ‘lump’ from the implant as there is with a traditional pacemaker.
  • Medical complications resulting from a chest incision or placement of conduction leads are eliminated.

Only in university centres.

Wireless pacemakers can only be put in place in university hospitals, but they are not yet reimbursed by health insurers.



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