How should I prepare for the implantation?
You should not eat or drink anything for at least six hours before
the procedure. Discuss your medications with your physician well
in advance. He may ask you to stop taking some of them for a few
days before the procedure. Refrain from using aspirin for a few
days as well. You may take approved medications with small sips
Usually, you will be allowed to choose whether the pacemaker
is implanted near your left or right shoulder.. In making your
decision, remember which hand you use when you talk on the telephone.
Cellular phones must be held on the opposite side of your body
from the pacemaker.
What happens before the procedure?
A doctor will explain the potential risks and complications of
the procedure. These risks include: bleeding, severe bruising,
tearing of a blood vessel, clotting, infection, and puncturing
of the lung or heart muscle . These events are rare. Do not hesitate
to ask questions and voice your concerns. You will be asked to
sign a consent form.
How is a pacemaker implanted?
Although pacemaker implantation may be performed in an operating
room, it is not open heart surgery.
Most likely you will be given a mild sedative to help you relax
before the procedure. A nurse will shave and clean your chest
to prevent infection. During the procedure, you will remain awake,
but you will receive a local anesthetic to numb the site of insertion.
The doctor will make an incision just below the collarbone to
create a small pocket. He will thread the pacing lead through
a vein and into your heart. X-ray monitors will guide. her. If
there is a second lead, the doctor will repeat the process.
The pacemaker generator is then connected to the leads, and placed
under the skin into the small pocket. The pacemaker is programmed,
and the incision is closed.
How long does the procedure take?
The procedure can sometimes take less than an hour, but usually
lasts from one to two hours.
What will I feel after the surgery?
You may feel slight discomfort at the site of the incision. Ask
the nurse for pain medication.
During your stay, your heart signals will be monitored, and your
vital signs will be checked regularly. During this time, you should
move your arm, but do not raise it above your head.
How long will I stay in the hospital?
The length of stay varies from hospital to hospital, and often
depends upon the type of pacemaker and your general health. Occasionally,
you will have to remain in the hospital for two nights. Most often
you will have to stay for only one night following the implantation.
A growing number of physicians perform initial pacemaker implantation
as an outpatient procedure with no overnight stay.
What happens before I leave the hospital?
Before your discharge, the pacemaker will be programmed to its
What problems can occur after insertion?
Although problems after insertion are rare, you should watch for
indications that your pacemaker is not performing properly. Call
your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:: dizziness, lightheadedness,
lack of energy, fainting, chest pain, tenderness, redness, prolonged
hiccoughing, difficulty in breathing, or swelling of the legs,
ankles, arms or wrists.
How will having a pacemaker change my life?
There are very few limitations following pacemaker implantation.
You may use common household appliances such as televisions, computers,
and hair dryers. Microwave ovens pose no problem. Electrical equipment
should be kept in good repair to avoid the possibility of an electric
You should take your pulse rate for one full minute each day
and call your doctor if the pulse rate is below the set amount
of your pacemaker.
Exercise moderately every day. Your doctor can recommend the
best exercise program for you.
You will receive an identification card for your wallet which
has information about your pacemaker and emergency instructions.
At the airport, you should not walk through the metal detector
because your pacemaker may set off an alarm. Don't let anyone
place a hand-held screening wand near your pacemaker because the
repetitive motions of the wand may temporarily interfere with
the proper operation of your implant. Present your identification
card and request a hand search.
Avoid the following: