A digital electrocardiogram (ECG) detector with low power consumption and high performance based on biorthogonal 2.2 wavelet transform and applicable for the modern implantable cardiac pacemakers is proposed in the present work. Biorthogonal 2.2 wavelet transform is chosen due to its high SNR, less number of coefficients, resemblance of shape with ECG wave and ability to increase QRS complex detection performance. Architecture of the proposed ECG detector includes modified biorthogonal 2.2 wavelet filter bank and a modified soft threshold-based QRS complex detector. Three low-pass filters and one high-pass filter with pipelined architecture are used which are lesser than the earlier designed detectors. Various blocks of proposed detector are designed to denoise the input ECG signal and then to find the correct location of R-wave. Verilog hardware description language for design entry, Modelsim embedded in Xilinx ISE v.14.1 for simulation, Virtex-6 FPGAs for synthesis and Xilinx ISE tools are used to measure the performance, area and power of the proposed ECG detector and its constituent blocks. A low detection error rate of 0.13%, positive predictivity (P +) of 99.94% and sensitivity (S e) of 99.92% are achieved for the proposed ECG detector which are better compared to the previous results. Also, it consumes only 20 mW of total power at 50 KHz and shows the overall delay of 18.924 ns which makes it useful for the low power and high-performance applications. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.