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Treatments & Procedures

Pacemaker Homegoing Instructions

Discharge Instructions After a Pacemaker Implant

We wish you a speedy recovery. Here is some important information about caring for yourself when you go home.

Traveling home

For your safety, a responsible adult must drive you home after the procedure. The medication you received during the procedure makes you drowsy. We request that your ride be ready to take you home by 10:00 a.m. on the morning of your discharge day. Please talk to your doctor about when you may resume driving.

How will I feel?

You may feel discomfort at the device implant site during the first 48 hours after the procedure. The doctor will tell you what medications you can take for pain relief. Please tell your doctor or nurse if your symptoms are prolonged or severe.

When can I take a shower?

You may take a shower 5 days after the procedure.

How do I care for the wound site?

Keep the area where the device was implanted clean and dry. Do not scrub the area. Steri-strips (small strips of tape) may be covering the wound site; they may be removed 3 weeks after the date of the implant. You do not need to keep the wound covered with a bandage. Do not use creams, lotions or ointments on the wound site.

Look at the area daily to make sure it is healing properly. If you notice any of the signs of infection (listed to the right), please call your doctor.

When to Call

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these signs of infection:

  • Increased drainage, bleeding or oozing from the insertion site
  • Increased opening of the incision where the device was implanted
  • Redness, swelling or warmth around the device insertion site
  • Increased body temperature (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.4 degrees Celsius)

If  you are experiencing symptoms that might be related to your pacemaker (such as dizziness, palpitations, fast or slow heart beats).

Other questions should be discussed with your physician.

Are there any activity restrictions?

These activity guidelines should be followed the first week after your procedure:

  • You may move your arms normally and do not have to restrict arm motion during normal activities. However, do not hold your arms above shoulder level for more than several minutes at a time.
  • Do not lift objects that weigh more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks after the procedure.
  • Avoid activities that require pushing or pulling heavy objects, such as shoveling the snow or mowing the lawn.
  • Stop any activity before you become over-tired.
  • For 6 weeks after the procedure, avoid golfing, swimming, tennis and bowling.
  • Try to walk as much as possible for exercise.

Your doctor will tell you when you can resume more strenuous activities.

When can I go back to work?

Your doctor will tell you when you can go back to work.

What does therapy from the device feel like?

You may or may not be aware of when your device detects and corrects your heart rhythm. You may or may not feel the pacing impulses from the device; they are usually painless.

Will any electrical devices interfere with my device?

Electric blankets, heating pads, and microwave ovens can be used and will not interfere with the function of your pacemaker.

A cellular phone should be used on the side opposite of where the device was implanted. Cellular phones should not be placed directly against the chest or on the same side as your device.

You will need to avoid strong electric or magnetic fields, such as: some industrial equipment, ham radios, high intensity radiowaves (found near large electrical generators, power plants, or radiofrequency transmission towers), and arc resistance welders.

In strong magnetic fields, the device stops monitoring your heart rhythm. Once you are out of these fields, normal device function resumes and there is no damage to the device.

If you must pass through entrances where anti- theft devices are being used, be sure to walk quickly through them.

Do not undergo any tests that require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Your doctor or nurse can provide more information about what types of equipment may interfere with your device.

ID Card

You will receive a temporary ID card that tells you what type of pacemaker and leads you have, the device manufacturer, the date of the device implant and the doctor’s name who implanted the pacemaker. Within three months you will receive a permanent ID card from the device company. It is important to carry this card at all times in case you need medical attention.

When should I follow-up?

A follow-up device check appointment will be scheduled within 6 weeks after the pacemaker implant procedure. The appointment will be scheduled automatically and you will receive an appointment notice in the mail.

The pacemaker check is performed at the Device Clinic and takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

This first follow-up appointment is critical, because adjustments will be made that will prolong the life of your pacemaker. This appointment is for a device check with the electrophysiology nurse. If you need to see your doctor for follow-up care, you will need to schedule a separate appointment.

An echocardiogram may be performed as part of your first follow-up evaluation.

Echocardiogram follow-up evaluation
How often do I need device checks?

If you have a single or dual chamber pacemaker: After your first follow-up appointment, your pacemaker should be checked every 3 months from home, using a telephone transmitter. You will receive instructions on how to use the telephone transmitter in the Device Clinic.

If you have a biventricular pacemaker (cardiac resynchronization therapy device): After your first follow-up appointment, your device should be checked every 3 months from home, using a telephone transmitter. You will receive instructions on how to use the telephone transmitter in the Device Clinic. Your biventricular pacemaker also should be checked every 6 months in the Device Clinic.

In addition, every year around the anniversary of your pacemaker implant, an echocardiogram will be scheduled along with a complete device check in the Device Clinic. This appointment is different than the telephone transmitter check, since the pacemaker leads are tested during this appointment.

What should I do about my device if I need surgery?

The Device Clinic staff will tell you if programming changes are needed before or after your surgery.

Your pacemaker should be checked within 3 months before your surgery; please schedule an appointment with the Device Clinic.

How long will my device last?

Pacemakers usually last 4 to 8 years, depending on how often it is used. When the battery becomes low, the pacemaker will need to be changed. By keeping your follow-up appointments in the Device Clinic, your health care team can monitor the function of your device and anticipate when it needs to be changed.

Managing your condition

Pacemaker therapy is only one part of a comprehensive treatment program. It is also important for you to take your medications, make dietary changes, live a healthy lifestyle, keep your follow-up appointments, and be an active member of your treatment team.

If you need more information or would like to make an appointment with a specialist, contact us, chat online with a nurse or call the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute Resource & Information Nurse at 216.445.9288 or toll-free at 866.289.6911. We would be happy to help you.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2010 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved. 04/10

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