What is a Pacemaker:
A pacemaker is an electronic device that helps regulate the heart's beat. It consists of two parts; a generator or battery and electrodes or wires. You may have one or two electrodes placed depending on your needs.
Your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medications before your pacemaker instertion. If you have any questions about any other medications be sure to ask. Pacemaker insertions require that you have an empty stomach. In most cases you will not be permitted to eat or drink anything after midnight. It's important to get a good night's sleep.
Hospital admission usually occurs the same day as your test. You will be asked to remove all clothing and jewelry and to put on a hospital gown. The nurse will need to start an intravenous (IV) line for fluids and medications. Staff members present for the procedure are a scrub nurse or scrub technician, a nurse to monitor and care for your needs and a radiology technologist. The Electrophysiologist, Cardiologist, or Surgeon will perform the procedure.
Some suggestions to help you prepare:
- Pack a small bag of overnight clothing and for the next day.
- Do not bring any valuables.
- Bring a list of your medications (with exact names and dosages).
- Arrange for someone to drive you home.
- Empty your bladder for your own comfort.
- You may wear your socks, dentures, hearing aids, or glasses.
During the examination
When it is time for your procedure your will be taken to the Eletrophysiology or Cardiac Catheterization Lab. The staff members will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. The area of your chest where the pacemaker is to be implanted will be shaved and cleansed to prevent infection. You will be hooked up to a cardiac and blood pressure monitor. This will monitor your heart rate constantly and your blood pressure frequently. You will be given a sedative and a local anesthetic ( numbing medication) will be injected into the skin at the area that was shaved and cleansed. The doctor will make a 3 to 4 inch incision and make a small pocket under the skin to hold the pacemaker. This incision will be closed with sutures and/or apply Steri-strips directly over the incision, followed by a dressing. A sling will be placed on your arm as a reminder to keep your arm at your side.
Post Procedure Information:
After the procedure is complete, you will be moved to a room where you can rest and recover while your heart is monitored continously. You will be on bed rest typically until the next morning until after a chest x-ray is taken to verify lead placement. Discharge will occur typically the day after the procedure. Before you go home, you will be given instructions explaining how to care for the insertion site as well as restrictions to be followed.
What can I do when I return home?
In 7 to 10 days you will be seen by your doctor and the sutures and Steri-strips will be removed. Only tub or sponge baths are recommended until that time. Call the office immediately if you have any of the following: redness, pain, swelling or drainage at the incision site, or fever with no other symptoms.
It will take a few weeks for the pacemaker to become firmly attached to the heart. Therefore, you will need to limit exertion movement on the side and arm where your pacemaker is located. If the patient is right handed the pacemaker is typically implanted on the left side of the chest. If the patient is left-handed the pacemaker is typically implanted on the right side of the chest. Avoid reaching over your head or heavy lifting for approximately one month. You may resume other normal activities the day after surgery. Unless instructed otherwise, you may begin driving one week after surgery.
You may use any appliance in your home, including electric blankets, microwave ovens and other home appliances. These appliances will NOT harm your pacemaker.
There will be no travel restrictions. However, your pacemaker may set off security devices in airports. If this happens, simply show airport personnel your pacemaker card. You will receive a temporary card before you leave the hospital. In the next few weeks you will receive a permanent pacemaker ID card in the mail. CARRY THIS CARD WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES! Other restrictions: your pacemaker may be reset by strong electrical currents. You are advised to avoid: electrical arc welding, observation towers with television transmitters, very close inspection of running combustion engines. The pacemaker is also sensitive to shock and shotgun shooting: recoil against the pacemaker must be avoided!
Call your doctor or clinic if you have any further questions or concerns regarding your pacemaker.