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 Are the Risks of Pacemaker Surgery?
Your chance of having any problems from pacemaker surgery is very low. If problems do occur, they may include:
- Swelling, bleeding, bruising, or infection in the area where the pacemaker
- Blood vessel or nerve damage
- A collapsed lung
- A bad reaction to the medicine used during the procedure
How Will a Pacemaker Affect My Lifestyle?
Once you have a pacemaker, you have to avoid close or prolonged contact with electrical devices or devices that have strong magnetic fields. Devices that can interfere with a pacemaker include:
- Cell phones and MP3 players (for example, iPods)
- Household appliances, such as microwave ovens
- High-tension wires
- Metal detectors
- Industrial welders
- Electrical generators
These devices can disrupt the electrical signaling of your pacemaker and stop it from working properly. You may not be able to tell whether your pacemaker has been affected.
How likely a device is to disrupt your pacemaker depends on how long you're exposed to it and how close it is to your pacemaker.
To be on the safe side, some experts recommend not putting your cell phone or MP3 player in a shirt pocket over your pacemaker (if the devices are turned on).
You may want to hold your cell phone up to the ear that's opposite the site where your pacemaker was implanted. If you strap your MP3 player to your arm while listening to it, put it on the arm that's farther from your pacemaker.
You can still use household appliances, but avoid close and prolonged exposure, as it may interfere with your pacemaker.
You can walk through security system metal detectors at your normal pace. You also can be checked with a metal detector wand as long as it isn't held for too long over your pacemaker site. You should avoid sitting or standing close to a security system metal detector. Notify airport screeners if you have a pacemaker.
Stay at least 2 feet away from industrial welders or electrical generators.
Some medical procedures can disrupt your pacemaker. These procedures include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging, or
- Shock-wave lithotripsy to get rid of
- Electrocauterization to stop bleeding during surgery
Let all of your doctors, dentists, and medical technicians know that you have a pacemaker. Your doctor can give you a card that states what kind of pacemaker you have. Carry this card in your wallet. You may want to consider wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace that states that you have a pacemaker.
Next: Physical activity
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