Implantable Pacemaker information
If your doctor has suggested that you have
a pacemaker fitted it is because you have
an bnormality in the electrical pathway of
your heart which upsets the regular beating
of your heart. An artificial pacemaker, which
is very small and battery-operated, will treat
some of these abnormal heart rhythms and so
improve your quality of life. It will be placed
just below your collarbone and the majority
of patients do not find it to be uncomfortable.
Patients with the following conditions may be offered
Attrbute: By Steven Fruitsmaak [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heart rate)
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
- Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
- Complete or Intermittent Heart Block
- Sick Sinus Syndrome
- Heart Failure
How is a pacemaker fitted?
This procedure is normally performed under a local
anaesthetic. You will be sedated to make you
relaxed and sleepy. The implant should take between
60 – 90 minutes and any stitches that may
need to be subsequently removed, will be done
at your GP surgery. It is reassuring to know that
serious complications from pacemakers are very
What happens after the pacemaker is fitted?
You will probably be allowed to go home the
same or the next day, provided your pacemaker
is checked, there are no complications and your
doctor assesses it is safe. You will be given a pacemakeridentity card with details of the make and
model of your pacemaker. This card should be kept
with you at all times. If you require further treatment
in the future it is essential that you show the
card to the medical professional who is treating
Most pacemaker batteries will last 8-12 years,
when another small operation is needed to
replace the pacemaker box. The battery
cannot be replaced alone. The battery, circuits
and lead connectors are in one sealed unit.
Usually the pacemaker wires last longer than
the batteries, but they may need to be
replaced every 10-20 years.
Are there any risks associated
with the procedure?
There are some small risks associated with having
a pacemaker fitted. Generally the most common
A small risk of infection, bleeding and bruising to
the pacemaker site.
A small risk of lead displacement – the
pacemaker lead can move and would then need
A small risk of perforation of the lung during the
Will I feel anything different?
You should not be aware of the pacemaker
working but occasionally people are conscious
of their heart beating faster, particularly
if you had a very slow heart rhythm before
the pacemaker was implanted.
The pacemaker will not usually stop the heart
from speeding up so if you had fast palpitations
before then they may continue. If this occurs
the palpitations are usually treated by medicine.
The pacemaker will be set to enable your own
heart to work as much as possible on its own
and will only come in if your heart rhythm slows
down to a certain level. It works “on demand”.
You should avoid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines and if you have an
appointment to have a test then it is essential you advise the medical staff that you
have a pacemaker.
It is also advisable to contact your pacemaker clinic for advice before you go into hospital
for investigations or operations that are not associated with your pacemaker.
What about driving?
There will be some restrictions but these will vary
depending on why you have had your pacemaker
You must inform the DVLA that you have
had a pacemaker implanted. It is also strongly
recommended that you inform your
insurance company. You must also make
sure that you inform your insurance company. You can access DVLA guidelines HERE
further questions please contact the Arrhythmia Nurse Specialist on 01273 696955 Ext 4071.
Courtesy of Arrhtyhmia Alliance. Registered Charity No. 1107496 ©2010