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You have had a procedure to insert a pacemaker. Once inside your body, this small electronic device helps keep your heart from beating too slowly. A pacemaker can’t fix existing heart problems. But it can help you feel better and have more energy. As you recover, follow all of the instructions you are given, including those below.
Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s okay.
Follow the instructions you are given about limiting your activity.
If you are fitted with an arm sling, keep your arm in the sling for 24 hours.
Do not raise your arm on the incision side above shoulder level for 10 days. This gives the device lead wires time to attach securely inside your heart.
Ask your doctor when you can expect to return to work.
You can still exercise. It’s good for your body and your heart. Talk with your doctor about an exercise plan.
Change your dressing as often as your doctor instructs. Avoid getting the area wet for about a week.
Every day, take your temperature and check your incision for signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth). Do this for 7 days.
Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor what pulse rate means you should call for medical attention.
Before you receive any treatment, tell all healthcare providers (including your dentist) that you have a pacemaker.
Carry an ID card that contains information about your pacemaker. You can show this card if your pacemaker sets off a metal detector. You should also show it to avoid screening with a hand-held security wand.
Keep your cell phone away from your pacemaker. Don’t carry the phone in your shirt pocket, even when it’s turned off.
Avoid strong magnets. Examples are those used in MRIs or in hand-held security wands.
Avoid strong electrical fields. Examples are those made by radio transmitting towers, “ham” radios, and heavy-duty electrical equipment.
Avoid leaning over the open hood of a running car. A running engine creates an electrical field.
See your cardiologist in the next 7-10 days. Call and make an appointment as soon as you get home.
Make regular follow-up appointments with your doctor. He or she will check the pacemaker to make sure it’s working properly.
Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:
Lack of energy
Twitching chest muscles
Rapid pulse or pounding heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Pain around your pacemaker
Fever above 100.4°F or other signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site)
Hiccups that won’t stop
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