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Cardiac Blog

Pacemaker Care

7June 2014


What is a pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a metallic device implanted under the skin either on the left or right side of the chest wall through local anaesthesia. Traditional pacemakers are usually not magnetic compliant. Modern pacemakers are magnetic friendly thereby making it safe to conduct investigations of the brain and other organs through MRI scan. Ideally, patients should opt for double chamber MRI-friendly pacemakers if they can afford to.

Post-operative care

Once a pacemaker is implanted, usual post-surgical care of the wound is recommended such as refraining from water and dust contamination, avoiding sogging of the dressing caused by excessive perspiration, etc.

Stitches are typically removed after 7 days with minimal discomfort and dressing is done after 48 hours. Patients are allowed to take bath after 9-10 days of the implantation if the wound is not gaping and discharging any fluid. It is recommended to stay away from the application of oil or powder to the wound until the incision line disappears with complete healing, which takes typically 2 weeks. Activities like driving, swimming are allowed only when the wound gets completely healed in around 2 weeks.

Heart rate monitoring

Basic pacemakers maintain the heart rate at 60 per minute. Patients need to be concerned more about a low rate than a high rate. A low pulse rate that reads below the set rate requires immediate doctor’s attention and an ECG needs to be done with or without the application of magnet to detect malfunction of the pacemaker. On the other hand, a high pulse rate is indicative of arrhythmia of the heart, a condition calling for emergency treatment and one that should not be associated with device malfunction.

More about Pacemakers

  • An ACID like pacemaker can give you shock for which the patient must be mentally prepared as it is programmed to do so.
  • Longevity of a pacemaker is desirable and can be achieved through regular follow-ups and programming by the doctor.
  • Use of cellular phones, microwave, electrical switch, razor, etc, are not considered deterrents with modern pacemakers. However, airport security should be informed about an installed pacemaker prior to being passed through metal detectors.

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Dr. P. K. Hazra

MD, DNB, DM Head of the Department, AMRI Hospitals

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