In this Article
- Pacemaker facts*
- 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
- Find a local Cardiologist in your town
In most cases, having a pacemaker won't limit you from doing sports and exercise, including strenuous activities.
You may need to avoid full-contact sports, such as football. Such contact could damage your pacemaker or shake loose the wires in your heart. Ask your doctor how much and what kinds of physical activity are safe for you.
Your doctor will want to check your pacemaker regularly (about every 3 months). Over time, a pacemaker can stop working properly because:
- Its wires get dislodged or broken
- Its battery gets weak or fails
- Your heart disease progresses
- Other devices have disrupted its electrical signaling
To check your pacemaker, your doctor may ask you to come in for an office visit several times a year. Some pacemaker functions can be checked remotely using a phone or the Internet.
Your doctor also may ask you to have an EKG (electrocardiogram) to check for changes in your heart's electrical activity.
Pacemaker batteries last between 5 and 15 years (average 6 to 7 years), depending on how active the pacemaker is. Your doctor will replace the generator along with the battery before the battery starts to run down.
Replacing the generator and battery is less-involved surgery than the original surgery to implant the pacemaker. Your pacemaker wires also may need to be replaced eventually.
Your doctor can tell you whether your pacemaker or its wires need to be replaced when you see him or her for followup visits.
Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease
"Pacemakers." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 28 Feb. 2012.
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