Why do I need a device change?
Cardiac pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (also called CIEDs or cardiac implantable electronic devices) are used to correct abnormal heart rhythms. These devices are safe; however, there are times when the device needs to be replaced or changed. Your implanted device may need to be changed if:
- The battery voltage is depleted. The battery checks performed at your follow-up appointments will help your doctor determine when the battery in your device will need to be replaced.
- Your doctor determines you may benefit from a device with additional or more sophisticated features.
- The device has malfunctioned.
You will receive an instruction sheet that describes how to prepare for the procedure. Here’s an overview of those instructions.
How do I know the time of my procedure?
Your health care team will tell you the date and time to arrive for your procedure.
Should I take my medication?
Do not discontinue any of your medications, including Coumadin, without first talking to your healthcare provider. Ask your doctor which medications you should stop taking and when to stop taking them.
Can I eat?
Eat a normal meal the evening before your procedure. However, DO NOT eat, drink or chew anything after midnight the night before your procedure. This includes gum, mints, water, etc. If you must take medications, take them with only small sips of water. When brushing your teeth, do not swallow any water.
What should I wear?
Remove all makeup and nail polish. Wear comfortable clothes when you come to the hospital. You will change into a hospital gown for the procedure. Please leave all jewelry (including wedding bands), watches and valuables at home. The clothing you are wearing that morning will be returned to the person who accompanies you.
What should I bring?
You will not need a robe or toiletries when you first arrive. Your family member can keep these items to give to you after the procedure.
Bring a one-day supply of your prescription medications. Do not take these medications without first talking with the doctor or nurse.
You may also bring guided imagery tapes or music of your choice along with the appropriate player.
Where is the procedure performed?
The CIED change procedure takes place in the Electrophysiology Lab.
Before the procedure begins, a nurse will help you get ready. You will lie on a bed and the nurse will start an intravenous line (IV). The IV is used to deliver medications and fluid during the procedure.
To prevent infection and to keep the device insertion site sterile:
- An antibiotic will be given through the IV at the beginning of the procedure.
- The left or right side of your chest will be shaved.
- A special soap will be used to cleanse the area.
- Sterile drapes are used to cover you from your neck to your feet.
- A soft strap will be placed across your waist and arms to prevent your hands from coming in contact with the sterile area.
Will I be awake?
A medication will be given through your IV to relax you and make you feel drowsy, but you will not be asleep during the procedure.
Will I be monitored?
The nurse will connect you to several monitors that allow the healthcare team to check your heart rhythm and blood pressure during the procedure. The nurse continually monitors you during the procedure.
Monitors used during the procedure:
- Defibrillator / pacemaker / cardioverter
- Blood pressure monitor
How is my new device implanted?
An incision will be made above the device. The device will be disconnected from the leads and removed. The leads will be tested. If the function is acceptable, the new device will be connected to the existing leads and placed in the same position as the old device.
How long does the procedure last?
The device change procedure will last approximately two hours.
Will I have to stay in the hospital?
After the procedure you will be admitted to a short- stay unit. You will be there for approximately four hours after your procedure is completed. Your heart will be monitored using telemetry. This consists of a small box connected by wires to your chest with sticky electrode patches. The box allows your heart rate and rhythm to be displayed on several monitors in the unit.
Recovery and Outlook
Can I drive after the procedure?
You will be given medication during the procedure that can impair your ability to drive. For your safety, you must bring someone to drive you home.
What tests will be done before I am discharged?
You will be transported to the Device Clinic to have your new device checked. You will sit in a reclining chair. Small, sticky patches called electrodes will be placed on your chest and connected via wires to a computer. The nurse will use a wand- like device, called a programmer, to check your new device, leads and the proper settings. At this time, you will also receive discharge instructions, incision care instructions, activity guidelines and follow-up plans.
You will also receive a temporary ID card that indicates what type of device and leads you have, the date of implant, and the doctor who performed the implant. CARRY THIS CARD WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES in case medical care is needed. Within three months, you will receive a permanent card from the device company.
Who do I call if I have questions?
The nursing staff at the Device Clinic is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Your doctor will provide you with after-hour instructions.
Care of Your Incision
- Remove your bandage (dressing) and leave your incision open to air the day after your CIED change procedure. Do not apply any ointments, creams or dressings.
- If dressing changes are needed, your doctor will teach you how to care for your incision, and you will be given supplies before you leave the hospital.
- Look at your incision every day. Call the Device Clinic or your doctor if you notice any redness, swelling or drainage.
- Wear loose clothing over the area of your incision.
- You may take a shower five days after your CIED change procedure. DO NOT rub the area with a towel. Instead, blot it dry.
- You may return to your normal activities two weeks after your CIED change procedure. Talk to your doctor about your return to work.
- Avoid swimming and hot tubs/whirlpools until your incision is completely healed (usually 6–8 weeks).
- Avoid lifting more than 10 pounds for one week after your CIED change procedure.
- You may use microwave ovens, electric blankets and heating pads. Cellular phones should be used on the side opposite your CIED.
- Carry your DEVICE IDENTIFICATION CARD with you at all times!
- Your follow-up appointment will be six to eight weeks after your CIED change procedure. This is a nurse visit only. The nurse will evaluate your incision and test the leads. If you need to see your doctor, please call.
- If you have not received notification of your follow- up appointment in the mail within 14 days, please call.
- Device follow-up is every three months over the phone or every six months in clinic. Your follow- up schedule will depend on the type of device you have implanted. Your follow-up schedule will be established at your post-procedure visit (6–8 weeks after the procedure).
- Routine clinic visits should be scheduled once a year after your post-procedure visit. If you have not received notification of an appointment around the anniversary date of your implant procedure, please call.
- Call your doctor or the Device Clinic if you have any questions or concerns about your procedure or are having any new symptoms.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or the Device Clinic if you experience any of the following:
- Increased drainage, bleeding or oozing from the incision 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);
- Symptoms that may be related to your CIED (such as dizziness, heart palpitations, or fast or slow heart beats);
- If you have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and receive a shock before your post-procedure visit.
Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.
Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, please review our Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute Outcomes.
Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiologists and Surgeons
Choosing a doctor to treat your abnormal heart rhythm depends on where you are in your diagnosis and treatment. The following Heart and Vascular Institute Sections and Departments treat patients with Arrhythmias:
- Section of Electrophysiology and Pacing: cardiology evaluation for medical management or electrophysiology procedures or devices - Call Cardiology Appointments at toll-free 800.223.2273, extension 4-6697 or request an appointment online.
- Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery: surgery evaluation for surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation, epicardial lead placement, and in some cases if necessary, lead and device implantation and removal. For more information, please contact us.
- You may also use our MyConsult second opinion consultation using the Internet.
The Heart and Vascular Institute also has specialized centers to treat certain populations of patients:
For younger patients with abnormal heart rhythms:
See: About Us to learn more about the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.
If you need more information, click here to 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.
Becoming a Patient
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Conditions
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Ventricular Tachycardia
- All Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute Treatment Guides
Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose your abnormal heartbeat and the most effective treatment method.
Our webchats and video chats give patients and visitors another opportunity to ask questions and interact with our physicians.
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm webchats and video chats
- All Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute webchats
- Recovery at home
- Support Groups and Information
- Visit Health Essentials- Read articles on rhythm disorders and healthy living on Health Essentials blog
- Follow Heart & Vascular Institute webchats and news stories on Twitter
- Subscribe to Heart and Vascular eNews
- Heart Rhythm Society
- Cardiac Arrhythmias, Cleveland Clinic Disease Management Project
- ACC/AHA Guidelines
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Our treatment outcomes speak for themselves. Please review our facts and figures and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.
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