This is a procedure to insert an artificial pacemaker. A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device. It helps maintain a normal heartbeat by sending electrical impulses to the heart.
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A pacemaker can be inserted when:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a pacemaker inserted, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
Before the procedure, your doctor will likely do:
In the days leading up to the procedure:
Local anesthesia will be used. This means that only the area being operated on is numbed. It is given as an injection.
You will lie flat on a table. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing will be monitored. A small incision will be made beneath your collarbone. The pacemaker will be inserted through this incision. The wires will be threaded through a vein under the collarbone to your heart. Lastly, the incision will be closed with stitches.
Your heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored.
About 2 hours
You will have pain after the procedure. You will be given pain medication.
Before you leave the care center, the pacemaker will be programmed to fit your pacing needs. When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
A hard ridge may form on the skin along the incision. This usually recedes as the wound heals.
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
ACC/AHA Guideline Update for Implantation of Cardiac Pacemakers and Antiarrhythmic Devices. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=46413. Accessed June 30, 2015.
Heart Failure Society of America. HFSA 2006 Comprehensive Heart Failure Practice Guideline. J Card Fail. 2006;12:e1-2.
What is a pacemaker? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300451.pdf. Published 2012. Accessed June 30, 2015.
11/19/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Lee S, Ransford B, et al. Abstract 662: electromagnetic interference (EMI) of implanted cardiac devices by MP3 player headphones. Circulation. 2008;118:S596.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO; Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 5/11/2013