In this Article
- Pacemaker overview
- What is a pacemaker?
- Understanding the heart's electrical system
- Who needs a pacemaker?
- Diagnostic tests
- How does a pacemaker work?
- What should I expect during pacemaker surgery?
- What should I expect after pacemaker surgery?
- What are the risks of pacemaker surgery?
- How will a pacemaker affect my lifestyle?
- Physical activity
- Ongoing care
- Battery replacement
- Pacemaker At A Glance
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
What To Expect During Pacemaker Surgery
Placing a pacemaker requires minor surgery. The surgery usually is done in a hospital or special heart treatment laboratory. Before the surgery, an intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into one of your veins. Medicine will be given through the IV line to help you relax. The medicine also may make you sleepy.
Your doctor will give you medicine to numb the area where he or she will put the pacemaker so you don't feel any pain. Your doctor also may give you antibiotics to prevent infection.
First, your doctor will place a needle in a large vein, usually near the shoulder opposite your dominant hand. Your doctor will then use the needle to thread the pacemaker wires into the vein and to the correct place in your heart.
An x-ray "movie" of the wires as they pass through your vein and into your heart will help your doctor place them. Once the wires are in place, your doctor will make a small cut into the skin of your chest or abdomen.
He or she will then slip the pacemaker's small metal box through the cut, place it just under your skin, and connect it to the wires that lead to your heart. The box contains the pacemaker's battery and generator.
Once the pacemaker is in place, your doctor will test it to make sure it works properly. He or she will then sew up the cut. The entire surgery takes a few hours.
What To Expect After Pacemaker Surgery
Expect to stay in the hospital overnight so your health care team can check your heartbeat and make sure your pacemaker is working properly. You'll probably have to arrange for a ride to and from the hospital because your doctor may not want you to drive yourself.
For a few days to weeks after surgery, you may have pain, swelling, or tenderness in the area where your pacemaker was placed. The pain usually is mild, and over-the-counter medicines often can relieve it. Talk to your doctor before taking any pain medicines.
Your doctor may ask you to avoid vigorous activities and heavy lifting for about a month after pacemaker surgery. Most people return to their normal activities within a few days of having the surgery.
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