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Image of a pacemakerPacemakers are used to treat people with arrhythmias​, disturbances in the normal rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. The pacemaker, placed in the chest or abdomen, uses electrical impulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.

Pacemakers are made to last a long time, but, as with all electronic devices, they do require upkeep. The average battery life is between five to 15 years. During this battery lifespan, there are several safety plans to ensure that the battery never stops working altogether.

Routine Pacemaker Maintenance

Pacemakers need to be checked periodically to make sure they are functioning properly and that the battery has adequate power. Your physician will ask you to come into the office at least once a year to check your pacemaker functionality.

Special equipment is used to detect the loss of battery life well before the battery becomes completely depleted. This same equipment allows the pacemaker function to be checked from the comforts of your home, using a device that transmits heart rhythm, functionality and battery life data to your physician over your telephone line (landline or cellular/wireless network).

Special Precautions

Once inserted, the pacemaker should not interfere with everyday life.

There are, however, a few precautions you must take, including:

  • Carrying your pacemaker ID card with you at all times
  • Being mindful of close or prolonged contact with certain devices that can interfere with the pacemaker:
    • Cell phones
    • Magnets
    • Airport security metal detectors and full body scanners
    • Retail anti-theft detectors
    • Medical equipment (MRI scans or radiation therapy)
    • Industrial welders or electric generators
  • Avoiding full-contact sports that could damage the pacemaker or loosen leads
  • Notifying all other medical personnel (including dentists) of your pacemaker
  • Contacting​ your physician immediately if:
    • You experience dizziness or lightheadedness
    • You faint or lose consciousness
    • Your pulse accelerates or decelerates suddenly
    • You have difficulties breathing
    • Your legs and ankles begin to swell

Patients should call 1.855.922.9567 for a referral to a physician on Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano medical staff that specializes in heart rhythm disorders. Referring physicians may call 469.814.3565 to schedule a patient for evaluation.

Any information and advice is given on a generalized, generic basis, and is not specific to any individual patient's condition. Use of this material is helpful in making you informed about health care issues and cannot replace a health professional-patient relationship. You should always consult with a professional for diagnosis and treatment of any specific health problems. You should not disregard any advice or treatment plan from your health professional based on your interpretation of what you may read in this material.​

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