Living with a Pacemaker

After you have a pacemaker implanted, you can do almost everything you did before your surgery. Here are tips for living well with a pacemaker.

Carry an ID card

When you first get your pacemaker, you’ll be given an ID card to carry with you. This card has important information about the device. Show it to any doctor, dentist, or other healthcare provider you visit. Pacemakers may set off metal detectors. So you may need to show your card to security personnel, such as those in the airport security checkpoint.

What to watch for

  • Be careful when using a cell phone. Most people will never have a problem when using a cell phone. But, it's safest to hold it to the ear farthest from your pacemaker. Or use a headset. Don’t carry the phone in your breast pocket, over the pacemaker.

  • Stay away from very strong magnets. These include hand-held security wands. Show your ID card when you go through security. They also include MRI machines. Many pacemaker devices are considered safe for having an MRI (MR-conditional devices). But safety precautions must still be used. Check with your pacemaker doctor for clearance if you need an MRI.

  • Stay away from strong electrical fields. These are made by radio transmitting towers and ham radios. They are also made by heavy-duty electrical equipment. A running engine makes an electrical field. Don't lean over the open hood of a running car and avoid working on alternators. If you use any large power tools, such as an industrial arc welder, talk to your doctor. Most household and yard appliances will not cause any problems.

  • Call your doctor if you have any symptoms that your pacemaker isn't working correctly. These include dizziness or palpitations.

What’s OK

Below are some of the many things that are safe to use when you have a pacemaker:

  • Microwave ovens

  • Computers

  • Hair dryers

  • Power tools

  • Radios, TVs, and CD players

  • Bluetooth headsets

  • Electric blankets and heating pads

  • Vacuum cleaners

  • Cars

Follow up

Plan to have regular checkups with your healthcare provider to check the battery life of your pacemaker. On average, this should happen every 6 months, or as advised by your healthcare provider.

For some devices, the monitoring of the device function and battery-life can be done with a remote monitor that can be set up in your home. Remote monitoring systems use the internet or telephone to communicate the information from your device to your provider. Depending on your device and how much your body uses the pacing functions of the pacemaker, you will need a new pacemaker generator (or battery) implanted at some point, usually about every 8 to10 years.

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