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Reasons for Procedure
- The body's natural pacemaker, the sinoatrial (SA) node, is not working properly—this can cause the heart to beat too slowly
- There are malfunctions in the atrioventricular (AV) node, which is the part of the heart’s electrical system that sends signals from the SA node to the ventricles—this leads to a slow heartbeat
- Heart performance in people with severe symptoms of congestive heart failure and a weakened heart muscle, known as cardiomyopathy, needs to be improved—his is called biventricular pacing, or cardiac resynchronization therapy
- Cardiac surgery is being done
- Excess bleeding
- Pacemaker malfunction
- Rupture in the heart muscle—rare
- Inappropriate stimulation of the diaphragm, which is the large muscle between chest and abdominal cavities
- History of smoking
- History of excess alcohol consumption
- Bleeding or blood-clotting irregularities
- Regular use of some medications
- Chronic disease
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Blood tests
- Chest x-rays—to look at the heart's structure
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)— to record the heart's activity
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen
- Blood thinners
- Anti-platelet medications
- Eat a light meal the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Return to normal activities as soon as you feel able. It may take about two weeks for you to recover.
- Avoid strenuous activity, especially involving the upper body, for 4-6 weeks.
- Avoid excessive movement of the arm/shoulder on the side of the pacemaker for two weeks. This will help you to avoid dislodging the leads. You may be given a sling to wear to help remind you.
- Resume driving in about one week.
- Have the stitches removed in about one week.
Now that you have a pacemaker,
you may need to avoid:
- MRI scans
- Heat therapy—often used in physical therapy
- High-voltage or radar machinery such as electric arc welders, high-tension wires, radar installations, or smelting furnaces
- Contact with radio or television transmitters
- Do not carry a cell phone in a pocket directly over the device. Keep the phone on the side away from the device. Headphones worn with MP3 players may also cause interference.
- Turn off car or boat motors when working on them. They may confuse your device.
- Tell your doctors and dentist that you have a pacemaker.
- Check with your doctor about the safety of going through airport security detectors with your device.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Heartbeat irregularities
- New symptoms
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
Heart Rhythm Society http://www.hrsonline.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca
ACC/AHA Guideline Update for Implantation of Cardiac Pacemakers and Antiarrhythmic Devices. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=12590. Accessed August 23, 2013.
Heart Failure Society of America. HFSA 2006 Comprehensive Heart Failure Practice Guideline. J Card Fail. 2006;12:e1-2.
What is a pacemaker? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm%5F300451.pdf. Published 2012. Accessed August 23, 2013.
11/19/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Lee S, Ransford B, et al. Abstract 662: electromagnetic interference (EMI) of implanted cardiac devices by MP3 player headphones. Circulation. 2008;118:S596.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO; Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -