Pacemaker

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A pacemaker is a small, battery-powered device that is implanted into your chest to help regulate your heart rate.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.

    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your cardiologist after your procedure:

You may need a follow-up visit 7 to 10 days after you leave the hospital. Your cardiologist will check your wound and make sure that your pacemaker is working correctly.

Follow the instructions to check your pacemaker:

Your cardiologist or primary healthcare provider will check your pacemaker and the battery regularly, usually every 3 to 6 months. He may do this in his office. He may also use a computer to check your pacemaker over the telephone between visits. Pacemaker batteries usually last 5 to 8 years. The pacemaker unit will be replaced when the battery gets low. This is a simpler procedure than the original one to implant your pacemaker.

Heart rate checks:

  • You may need to use a heart monitor at home after your procedure. This device may be called an event monitor, Holter monitor, or mobile telemetry. Monitoring may be done for a period of time, such as a week, or at regular intervals until your heart rhythm is regular.

  • You may be taught how to check your pulse on your wrist or on your neck. This allows you to monitor how your pacemaker is working. A normal heart beats 50 to 70 times a minute when you are resting. Ask what your pulse should be (your pacemaker's set rate).

Wound care:

Keep your incisions clean and dry for 7 to 10 days after your procedure. Ask your caregiver how to care for your incisions and when you can shower or bathe.

Activity:

  • Arm movement and lifting: Be careful using the arm on the side of your pacemaker. Do not move your arm for the first 24 hours after your procedure. Do not lift your arm above your shoulder or lift more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks after your procedure. This helps the leads stay in place and helps your wound heal. Ask your caregiver when you can drive after your procedure.

  • Sports: Ask your caregiver when it is okay to play tennis, golf, basketball, or any sport that requires you to lift your arms. Do not play full contact sports, such as football, that could damage your pacemaker. Ask your cardiologist or primary healthcare provider how much and what kinds of physical activity are safe for you.

Living with a pacemaker:

  • Tell all caregivers you have a pacemaker: This includes surgeons, radiologists, and medical technicians. You may want to wear a medical alert ID bracelet or necklace that states that you have a pacemaker.

  • Carry your pacemaker ID card: Make sure you receive a pacemaker ID card. Carry it with you at all times. It lists important information about your pacemaker. Show it to airport security if you travel.

  • Avoid electrical interference: Avoid welding equipment, MRI machines, and other equipment with large magnets or electric fields. These things could interfere with how your pacemaker works. Use your cell phone on the ear opposite from your pacemaker. Do not carry your cell phone in your shirt pocket over your chest.

  • Do not touch the skin around your pacemaker: This can cause damage to the lead wires or move the pacemaker unit from where it should be.

Contact your cardiologist or primary healthcare provider if:

  • The area around your pacemaker is painful or tender after surgery.

  • The skin around your stitches is red, swollen, or has drainage. This may mean that you have an infection.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have chills, a cough, and feel weak or achy. These are also signs of infection.

  • Your feet or ankles are swollen.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.

  • Your stitches open up.

  • You feel your heart suddenly beating very slowly or quickly.

  • You become too weak or dizzy to stand, or you pass out.

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.You have chest pain that does not go away with rest or medicine.

  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Pacemaker (Discharge Care)

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