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Outline of man's chest showing pacemaker in chest with leads going into heart chambers.

A pacemaker is a small electronic device that helps your heart’s electrical system. It keeps your heart beating at the right pace. Inserting the pacemaker into your body is called implantation. You stay awake during the procedure. You may be asked some questions or be asked to take some deep breaths.

Before the procedure

  • Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure, or 8 hours before the procedure.

  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on what medicines to take.

  • You may be asked to shower with antibacterial soap the night before your procedure and the morning of the procedure. Ask your provider if he or she wants you to use a certain kind of soap.

  • Your provider may ask you to use clean bed sheets and pajamas the night before the procedure.

During the procedure

  • A local anesthetic is given by injection to numb the area where the pacemaker will be inserted. This keeps you from feeling pain during the procedure.

  • The doctor will make a cut (incision) where the generator is placed.

  • The doctor will guide the wire (lead) through a vein into your heart’s chambers using X-ray monitors.

  • The doctor will attach the pacemaker generator to the lead or leads.

  • The pacemaker’s settings are programmed to help your heart beat at a rate that’s right for you.

After the procedure

  • You will have a chest X-ray while you are in the recovery area.

  • You may stay in the hospital overnight, or you may go home the same day.

  • Your pacemaker settings will be rechecked.

  • Follow the instructions you are given for caring for the implantation site. You will likely be told not to raise the arm on that side for a certain amount of time.

  • Take your temperature and check your incision for signs of infection every day for a week.

  • Return for a follow-up visit as directed by our staff.

When to call your doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • You feel any of the symptoms you had before the pacemaker was implanted. These include dizziness, lightheadedness, lack of energy, or fainting spells.

  • Your chest muscles twitch.

  • You have a rapid or pounding heartbeat or shortness of breath.

  • You feel pain in the area around your pacemaker.

  • You have a fever over 101°F (38.3°C) or other signs of infection. These include redness, swelling, or warmth at the incision site.

Online Medical Reviewer: Cunningham, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Online Medical Reviewer: Larson, Kim APRN, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/20/2014
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