Living With A Pacemaker

A pacemaker is a small electronic device that is implanted in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. It works by producing electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to beat at a normal rate.

Doctors may recommend pacemakers to patients diagnosed with heart arrhythmias (a condition which causes the heart to beat in an irregular rhythm) or patients living with symptoms resulting from bradycardia (slow heart rate).

If a pacemaker is needed to help treat either condition, minimally invasive surgery is required to implant the device.  After implantation, your doctor will discuss in detail, precautions to consider while wearing a pacemaker. You may be advised to:

  • Stay away from magnets or strong magnetic fields.
  • Make certain to take medications as recommended.
  • Keep cellphones at least six inches away from the device.
  • Do not linger in areas with walk-through anti-theft detectors.
  • Carry a pacemaker ID card.
  • Inform airport security agents that you are wearing the device, as your pacemaker can set off metal detectors. Hand-held scanners contain a magnet that may interfere with your device, remind the agent to avoid using the scanner near your pacemaker.
  • Avoid using arc welders and chainsaws.
  • Take special precautions to protect your device during certain medical procedures such as MRI scans or radiation therapy.

Most people living with pacemakers can continue their normal day-to-day physical activities.  Speak to your doctor about what level of physical activity is best for you.

Pacemakers require maintenance. Although the average battery life of your pacemaker is five to 15 years, your doctor may ask you to come in at least once a year to make sure your device is functioning properly.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Cardiology Department provides pacemaker implantation and evaluation services. To schedule an appointment with one of our highly-trained cardiologists, please call (718) 206-7100.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.