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Pacemaker Generator Change


What you need to know about a pacemaker generator change:

The pacemaker generator sends electrical impulses to your heart. This makes your heart beat correctly. The generator also contains a battery. Your healthcare provider will replace your generator before the battery runs out. The generator may be replaced earlier if it stops working correctly.

How to prepare for a pacemaker generator change:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for the procedure. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. Ask someone to drive you home from your procedure.

What will happen during a pacemaker generator change:

  • You may be given IV sedation to make you feel calm and relaxed during the procedure. You may also be given local anesthesia to numb the procedure area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing, but you should not feel any pain.
  • Your healthcare provider will make an incision in your chest. He or she will remove the old generator. He or she will unplug the leads from the generator and inspect them for damage. Your provider will connect the leads to the new generator. He or she will insert the new generator through your incision. Your incision will be closed with stitches, medical glue, or Steri-strips™. It will be covered with a bandage.

What will happen after a pacemaker generator change:

Healthcare providers will monitor your heartbeat. They will also check your pacemaker with a machine to make sure it is working correctly. You may have bruising or pain near your incision. This should get better in a few days.

Risks of a pacemaker generator change:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. The leads may move and damage your veins, nerves, wall of your heart, or lungs. You may have to have another procedure to correct the damage or to replace the generator or leads.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • and any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Seek care immediately if:

  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Your pulse is lower or higher than your healthcare provider said it should be.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care for your incision as directed:

Ask your healthcare provider when you can remove your bandage. Wash around your incision with soap and water. It is okay to let soap and water run over your incision. Do not scrub your incision. Gently pat the area dry, and apply new, clean bandages as directed. Check your incision every day for redness, swelling, or pus.


  • Do not lift anything heavier than 3 pounds with the arm closest to your pacemaker. Do not lift the arm over your head until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Ask your healthcare provider how long to follow these instructions.
  • Do not do vigorous activities. This includes contact sports and some types of exercise. These activities can damage your pacemaker or cause your wires to move. Ask your healthcare provider what activities are safe for you to do.

Pacemaker safety:

  • Tell all healthcare providers that you have a pacemaker. MRI machines and certain equipment used during surgery can affect how your pacemaker works.
  • Limit or avoid close contact with certain electrical devices. Examples include cell phones, iPods™, microwave ovens, and generators. These devices can prevent your pacemaker from working correctly. Stand at least 2 feet from a generator. Do not put your cell phone or iPod in the chest pocket closest to your pacemaker. Use the arm opposite your pacemaker to hold and use your cell phone.
  • Tell airport security that you have a pacemaker before you go through the metal detectors. Metal detectors may beep because of the metal in your pacemaker. Step away from the machine if you feel dizzy or your heart rate increases. Ask the security agents not to hold a security wand over your pacemaker for more than a few seconds. Your pacemaker function or programming may be affected by the wand.
  • Wear medical alert identification. Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have a pacemaker. Ask your healthcare provider where to get these items.
  • Check your pulse as directed. Check for 1 minute while you are resting. Write down your heart rate. Bring a copy of these numbers to your follow-up visits.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need regular checks to make sure your pacemaker is working correctly. Some checks may be done over the telephone. Ask your healthcare provider about them. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Pacemaker Generator Change (Ambulatory Care)

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