Steve Halliwell, 65, is the second longest serving male cast member on ITV’s Emmerdale, having joined the soap back in 1994. But in September last year, the actor took five months off from the show because he was having a pacemaker fitted. A pacemaker is a small electrical device which is usually fitted to help keep the heart beating regularly and not too slowly. After a lengthy road to recovery, the star thanked the show for its support and expressed how excited he was to get back to work.
He told The Sun in January: “I’m back at work in a few weeks and feeling fitter than ever after having a pacemaker fitted in September. It’s done me the world of good and I feel fantastic.
“Emmerdale have been brilliant throughout and really looked after me.
“I did have to spend some time in hospital and it was really funny to see the entire Dingle clan around my bed.
“Everyone has been so considerate and I know it sounds a bit of a cliche, but we really are one big happy family.”
He added: “I have some great storylines coming up and I can’t wait to get stuck into filming.”
The only notable time off Steve had off before last year was in 2003 when he took a short break from Emmerdale for personal reasons.
Why does someone need a pacemaker?
The heart is essentially a pump which is controlled by electrical signals, but for various reasons, these signals can become disrupted.
When this happens a number of potentially dangerous heart conditions can arise, including an abnormally slow heartbeat, an abnormally fast heartbeat, heart block and cardiac arrest, explains the NHS.
The health body goes on to explain how one works: “A pacemaker is a small device about the size of a matchbox or smaller that weighs 20 to 50g.
“It consists of a pulse generator, which has a battery and a tiny computer circuit, and one or more wires known as pacing leads, which attach to your heart.
“The pulse generator emits electrical impulses through the wires to your heart. The rate at which the electrical impulses are sent out is called the pacing rate.
“Almost all modern pacemakers work on demand. This means they can be programmed to adjust the discharge rate in response to your body’s needs.
“If the pacemaker senses that your heart has missed a beat or is beating too slowly, it sends signals at a steady rate.
“If it senses that your heart is beating normally by itself, it doesn’t send out any signals.”
You can notice any changes in your heartbeat by feeling the pulse in your neck or wrist.
Symptoms of heart block can range from mild light-headedness or dizziness to chest pain and shortness and breath, and the main symptoms of cardiac arrest are unconsciousness, unresponsiveness and no breathing.
If you experience an irregular heartbeat or symptoms of heart block see your GP. If someone experiences cardiac arrest, 999 should be called immediately.