This article is for informational use only and should in no way replace the opinion, diagnosis or treatment decided upon by your doctor. Response to the same treatment can vary from patient to patient. Always consult your doctor about any information regarding diagnosis and treatment and follow his instructions carefully.
Most patients who undergo a pacemaker implantation return to their normal daily activities after making a full recovery from the surgery. However, there are some things you need to consider in order to live with a pacemaker and ensure that no problems arise in the future.
Your doctor or nurse will provide clear information to you. Here are some general guidelines to follow after the recovery period.
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The patient will be able to gradually return to his normal lifestyle when the doctor sees that there is no longer any risk. Most patients resume physical activity after the recovery period.
However, it is advised to avoid activities that involve violent physical exertion or that may involve falling, bumping or applying pressure to the area of the heart, as this can damage the device or wires. The doctor will be able to provide any clarifications regarding some specific activities.
Most patients who undergo a pacemaker implantation can travel without restrictions unless there are contraindications related to their general health.
Before traveling, it is advisable to consult a doctor regarding:
- Specific health or behavioral recommendations.
- What to do if you feel upset or have any symptoms.
- How to find a cardiologist or request emergency service or medical help in the place you want to travel.
Airport security services
There is a note regarding the security systems available at airports. Before crossing the airport security gate, the patient must inform the security staff that you have a pacemaker, it is best to be able to present a certificate proving this. The security staff will then search you manually, then you will enter normally, you should stay away from the detection system if you feel dizzy or a racing heart.
Airport security systems are magnetic detectors and thus they will sound an alarm when they detect the metal in the pacemaker. If security personnel use a handheld metal detector for testing, ask the employee not to place or pass the device over the core area.
Before undergoing any medical procedure, always inform your doctor, including the dentist or technician, of the presence of a pacemaker. Before the procedure, these specialists may need to contact a cardiologist, especially if the procedure is new or unusual.
Some medical procedures may affect the operation of the pacemaker and thus require precautionary measures to avoid or minimize any effects on the patient or the device itself.
Warnings for medical procedures
People who have a pacemaker should not undergo the following medical procedures:
- Ablation of supraventricular tachycardia.
- Heat therapy (short, high-frequency waves or microwaves).
- Magnetic resonance imaging or magnetic resonance angiography.
- Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA).
Precautions for medical procedures
Some medical procedures can be safely subjected to taking specific precautions by the doctor to avoid possible malfunction of the device or affecting its work:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
- Ultrasound .
- Automated external defibrillator and cardioversion.
- High-energy radiation therapy.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
- Kidney stones.
- Ultrasound therapy.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Permissible medical procedures
There are many medical procedures that do not affect the functioning of the pacemaker. However, these procedures must be done correctly and very carefully.
- Orthodontic procedures that include the use of punches and ultrasound or X-rays are permitted.
- Imaging techniques such as chest X-ray are permitted.
It is recommended that you consult your doctor to evaluate the potential risks and benefits of any medical procedure.
The energy fields that form near certain types of devices can affect the functioning of the pacemaker. These energy fields that are created around electrical devices can be weak or strong. The closer the machine to you, the greater the energy field.
The concept of electromagnetic compatibility indicates that the electrical energy field generated by an electrical device is compatible with electrically sensitive devices such as a pacemaker.
In most cases, the electromagnetic fields of energy produced by electrical devices are limited and weak and do not affect the operation of the pacemaker, but electrical equipment with strong energy fields, such as welding machines, large pneumatic hammers or gasoline saws, can make an impact.
What behaviors should be avoided?
Thanks to technological advances in recent years, patients using pacemakers can lead a completely normal life without many restrictions. However, there are some behaviors that you should avoid:
Physical or sexual activity : It is possible to resume physical and sexual activity after the recovery period has ended. It would be a good idea to avoid all violent physical activities that involve trauma, which can damage the device. It is not recommended, especially in the first month after the device is implanted, to raise the left arm to more than 90 degrees (if you want to pick up items on a high shelf, use the right arm to avoid pulling the device wires).
Travel : As we said, it is possible to travel without restrictions, just adhere to some precautions provided by the doctor.
Airport, bank or post office security systems : Before crossing the security gates, it is advisable to inform the control staff that you have a pacemaker in place.
Driving a motorized vehicle : It is possible to resume driving at least one week after implantation of the pacemaker. The only advice you should stick to is wearing a seat belt while driving. The risk of damaging the seat belt of the pacemaker is minimal and the risk of a car accident is more likely.
Perform imaging scans : CT, X-ray or ultrasound scans can be performed, but the doctor should be informed that you have a pacemaker.
MRI : Many modern defibrillators are compatible with MRI. However, this compatibility does not include older devices, so it is advisable to consult a trusted cardiologist to verify the compatibility between the type of pacemaker and the type of MRI device you intend on imaging with. Some pacemakers often require programming before and after the MRI.
Devices that do not affect the pacemaker : You can use computers, cell phones, hair dryers, electrical appliances, radios, televisions, stereos, electric blankets, vacuum cleaners, and electric heaters.
How long does a pacemaker work?
The life span of a pacemaker varies by type. It also depends on frequency of use and stimulation. The weaker the electrical activity of the heart, the more it needs to be stimulated by the pacemaker, and thus the life of the device will be shorter.
In general, the life of a pacemaker can range from a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 10-12 years. If it is emptied, a surgical device is replaced.
Replacement surgery is faster (takes on average 30 minutes) and requires no bed rest and a post-transplant recovery period.
Pacemaker replacement is performed in a hospital by making an incision in the skin over the old device. Then he extracts the old pacemaker and implants the new device. Connections and wires are not replaced unless they are defective.
When should the medical examinations take place?
After discharge from the hospital, the patient must be kept under observation for 7 days to check the condition of the wound, its healing, and the functioning of the device.
After that, it is recommended that you check the device every 6-8 months. During these checks, the device’s functionality and battery charge status will be tested.
For more details about when to have the tests performed, contact your doctor or consult another doctor who specializes in treating heart disease.