AJ PHOTO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY AJ PHOTO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Heart pacemaker held in a surgeon's gloved hand. A pacemaker is a device that supplies electrical impulses to the heart to keep it beating regularly. The main body of the pacemaker is implanted in the chest between the skin and the bones and muscles of the ribs. Wires (not seen) are implanted into the heart muscle. Pacemakers are fitted in patients with a malfunctioning sinoatrial node, the part of the heart that initiates the heartbeat, or in patients with a heart block, which impairs the nerve impulses generated by the node. Pacemakers may provide a regular impulse or discharge only when a heartbeat is missed.
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