Sir Ganga Ram Hospital                   New Delhi-110060

Cure Heart Clinic, Paschim Vihar Prabhuved Clinic, Pitampura

Life after Pacemaker / Living with Pacemaker

A pacemaker can improve daily life for many people. Once you have a pacemaker, you will need regular doctor visits to check your health condition and the pacemaker. Carry your pacemaker ID card with you for emergencies. Show it to airport security, new doctors, or other people who need to know about your device. The card should have information on the type of pacemaker and leads you have, when you got the pacemaker, and your doctor’s contact information.

How often do I need to have my pacemaker checked?

After you get your pacemaker, you will have to go to the doctor for regular pacemaker check-ups. Pacemakers are checked with a device called a programmer. When the programmer is held over the pacemaker, it is able to get information about how the pacemaker is working. The programmer can also be used to change the controls of the pacemaker. The programmer also tell us the how long battery will last and also gives us alarm for replacement.

How long pacemaker battery last?

Pacemaker battery life depends on usage of pacemaker. A pacemaker battery usually lasts 7 to 8 years but newer generation’s pacemaker battery may last up to 13-14 years.

What to do after battery is over?

When the battery runs down, a new pacemaker will be implanted. The surgery to replace the old pacemaker with a new one usually requires a local anaesthesia.  In most cases, your original pacemaker leads will not need to be replaced.

Which electronic devices affect my pacemaker?

It’s unlikely that your pacemaker would stop working properly because of electrical interference. Still, you’ll need to take a few precautions:

1. Mobile Phone:  It’s safe to talk on a mobile phone, but keep your phone at least 6 inches (15 centimetres) away from your pacemaker. Don’t keep your phone in a shirt pocket. When talking on your phone, hold it to the ear opposite the side where your pacemaker was implanted.

2. Security systems: Passing through an airport metal detector won’t interfere with your pacemaker, although the metal in the pacemaker could sound the alarm. To avoid potential problems, carry an ID card stating that you have a pacemaker.

3. Medical equipment: Make sure all your doctors and dentists know you have a pacemaker. Certain medical procedures, such as magnetic resonance imaging, cancer radiation treatment, electrocautery to control bleeding during surgery, and shock wave lithotripsy to break up large kidney stones or gallstones could interfere with your pacemaker.

4. Power-generating equipment: Stand at least 2 feet (61 centimeters) from welding equipment, high-voltage transformers or motor-generator systems.

Which electronic devices do not affect my pacemaker?

Here is a list of devices that will not affect or damage pacemakers. Most people do not need to worry about coming into contact with these devices.

1.       Radios

2.       Electric drills

3.       Electric blankets

4.       Electric shavers

5.       Heating pads

6.       Metal detectors

7.       Microwave ovens

8.       TV transmitters

9.       TV remote controls

10.     X-ray machines

11.     Airport security detectors

Medical and dental procedures that can affect your pacemaker

1.       Electrocautery used during surgery to stop blood vessels from bleeding

2.       Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

3.       Microwave diathermy for physical therapy

4.       Radiation therapy to treat cancer

5.       Shock-wave lithotripsy to treat kidney stones

6.       Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to treat pain

The effects depend on what type of device you have. Always tell your doctor or dentist that you have a pacemaker and show them the device ID card. They may be able to make certain changes if you need the procedure or test.

Common Misconceptions about Pacemakers

People have many misconceptions about pacemakers arising from popular notions or outdated information. Always ask your physician if you have any questions about your pacemaker. The following are the most common misconceptions:

With my pacemaker I cannot use a microwave oven.” This was true for very old pacemakers but is not true today. People with pacemakers may use all types of household appliances and power tools.

With my pacemaker I cannot use a cell phone.” Although there is a possibility of interference with some high-power digital cell phones, people with pacemakers usually need only to keep the phone out of clothing pockets near the pacemaker and hold the phone to the ear away from the pacemaker.

“With my pacemaker I will have to slow down.” This is false. In our practice, we have pacemaker patients who play sports such as golf, tennis, or basketball..

“With my pacemaker I cannot travel.” By always carrying the identification card given at the time of the pacemaker implantation, patients can have their pacemaker evaluated in almost any part of the world if needed. It is also safe to pass through airport security checks in the normal fashion.

With my pacemaker I won’t need heart medications.” The pacemaker does not replace the need for heart medications to treat high blood pressure, angina, heart rhythm problems, etc. Most people with pacemakers also take heart medications.

“I have a pacemaker, so I cannot have a heart attack.” The pacemaker does not protect against blockages in blood vessels that cause heart attacks. Similarly, people may still have fast heart rhythm problems that the pacemaker cannot treat directly. The standard pacemaker does not strengthen the heart, although some new types of pacemakers may be helpful in certain patients with congestive heart failure. With pacemaker implants, patients should continue to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, diet, and cardiac medications when prescribed.

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