Pacemaker Post-Surgery Care: Chest X-Ray, rest, carry identification | National Heart Centre Singapore
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Pacemaker - Symptoms

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Pacemaker - Post-surgery care

What can I expect immediately after the pacemaker is implanted?

You will return from the Electrophysiology Laboratory with pressure dressing over the site of the pacemaker implant. If you have any pain, please inform your nurse so you can be given enough painkillers.

You will stay overnight in the hospital and usually will be able to go home the day after the device is implanted. Wound care will be taught and outpatient appointment will be given to ensure proper wound healing. 

What tests will be done after the procedure?

A chest x-ray will be done after the device implant to check your lungs as well as the position of the device and lead(s).

The following day, an Electrophysiology Technician will confirm your pacemaker is working properly; this is done on the ward, from outside the body.

If there are no problems, you can expect to be discharged the following day with a return appointment in 1 week. You may also be given a short course of antibiotics to prevent infection.

Do I need long term follow up?

You will need long term follow up. Initially you will be seen at 4 to 6 week intervals to check the pacemaker is functioning as intended. If there are no problems, the follow up interval may be lengthened to every 3 months or more.

Are there any special precautions I must take after an pacemaker is fitted? Do I need to modify my lifestyle in any way?

After the pacemaker is implanted, you will need to keep the implant site clean and dry while the overlying skin heals. On discharge from the ward, the nurses will arrange regular dressing changes.

For 2-3 weeks after implantation, you should also avoid raising your arm on the side of the implant above shoulder level to avoid dislodging the lead or device. After two to three weeks have elapsed, the lead and device should be secure so that this is no longer an issue and you can move your arm normally.

There are few restrictions from having a pacemaker. Most sports are permitted except contact sports such as rugby where vigorous impact could damage the pacemaker.

Swimming is permitted but we do advise common sense precautions such as not swimming in deep water alone.

Will I be able to drive myself home after the procedure?

No. For your safety, a responsible adult should drive you home. Ask your doctor when you could resume driving.

The pacemaker is battery-powered. How often does the battery need changing and how is it changed?

Most pacemakers will last around 5 to 10 years depending on the type and model of your pacemaker. We will check on the battery status during your regular clinic follow ups. The battery life of your pacemaker depends on how often it is used and the power output. Changing the battery is similar to implanting a new device except the pacemaker leads (the wires which connect the device to the heart which can last typically up to 20 years) do not need to be changed.

What instructions will I receive before I leave the hospital?

Your doctor will discuss the results of the procedure and answer any questions you have. Be sure to ask the doctor if you can continue taking your previous medications.

You will receive specific instructions about how to care for yourself after the procedure including medication guidelines, wound care, activity guidelines, device care and maintenance, and a follow-up schedule.

Should I carry my identification card (ID) with me all the time?

Yes. Your ID card contains pertinent information about yourself, type of pacemaker and your physician.

This is made available quickly in the event of an emergency. If you lose your card, please ask for a replacement. 

What is electromagnetic interference (EMI) and should I be concerned with EMI at my workplace?

Things that use electricity and magnets have electromagnetic fields around them and may cause Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). These fields are usually weak and will not affect your pacemaker.

However, strong electromagnetic fields have the potential to alter the function of your pacemaker. A strong magnetic field can “blind” the pacemaker to send pacing beats when your heart does not need it. If you move away from the source of EMI, your pacemaker will return to normal. Most office and shop equipment are unlikely to interfere with your pace maker.

If you are uncertain, please do consult with your doctor.

Which devices interfere with a pacemaker? Is it a problem if I walk through airport, shopping or courtroom security metal detectors?

Airport screening devices are unlikely to affect your pacemaker but they may detect the metal housing of your device and set off the security alarm. If it does, inform the security personnel that you have a pacemaker implanted and show them your identification card. 

Passing through the metal detector portal will not harm your device; however do not linger near it as the magnetic field may temporarily interrupt the normal function of the device. 

Properly maintained electrical household items are unlikely to interfere with your pacemaker.

Are medical procedures safe?

Always mention to the medical personnel about your pacemaker implantation and show them your identification card. With proper precautionary measures prior procedures, most medical procedures and dental procedures are unlikely to interfere with your pacemaker except Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is not recommended.

Alert your doctor if you are scheduled for medical procedures, including dental procedures as your pacemaker may need to be reprogrammed before the procedure to lower the chance of interference or damage to the pacemaker’s function.

My doctor has advised me to have a “scan”. Is this safe if I have a pacemaker implanted?

Ultrasound scans (including echocardiograms), as well as X ray scans (including CT scans) do not affect the function of your pacemaker; you may proceed with these normally.

However, you should not have MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans if your pacemaker is not MRI compaitable. Please inform the doctor or radiologist prior the scan.

Can I travel with my pacemaker?

Most people with pacemakers can travel freely unless they are restricted by their underlying medical condition or other unrelated conditions.

Can I use my mobile phone?
Mobile phones are unlikely to interfere with your pacemaker if proper precautions are followed. 
  • At least 6 inches should be maintained between your mobile phone and your pacemaker.
  • When using your phone, you should hold it to the ear opposite the side of the body in which the pacemaker is implanted.
  • When set to receive calls, your mobile phone should not be carried in a shirt pocket on the same side as the pacemaker.

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