How long does a pacemaker last? How many can a person expect to have in a lifetime?
Pacemakers can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more - on the average about seven years. Device longevity depends upon how hard the battery inside the pacemaker has to work. This is affected by how much energy is required to pace the heart and how the system is programmed. Thanks to ongoing research and development, the life of pacemakers continues to increase as their size decreases, making them more comfortable for people.

Are there different kinds of pacemakers for different activity levels?
Today's pacemakers mimic the wide range of lifestyles and activity levels of the people who use them. People who enjoy walking, golfing, or swimming needn't worry. Physicians can provide patients with pacemakers to meet their individual needs. The physician decides on the type of pacemaker best suited for a patient, based upon why the pacemaker is needed, the patient's other medical conditions, and how often the heart is likely to need assistance from the device.

Can pacemaker patients live an active lifestyle of jogging, tennis, skiing, and such? What if they do something that is too strenuous for the pacemaker to handle?
Typically, pacemaker patients can continue to lead active lives. If you did a certain activity before, more likely than not, you'll be able to continue that activity after pacemaker implantation. In fact, you should be able to participate in most activities. Because people may have more energy after the pacemaker is implanted, they may be able to do more than they have been able to do for some time. If there are special activities that a patient would like to participate in, this needs to be discussed with the physician prior to the procedure, as it may affect the device that is selected and how it is implanted.

Can people hear and feel pacemakers tick inside of them?
After a pacemaker is implanted, the patient will probably be aware of it for a while. This is a normal feeling and will lessen with time. However, the pacemaker does not make sounds; no one will be able to hear it.

Do pacemakers place any limitations on my sex life?
Other than a brief stay in the hospital, followed by a short recovery period, a pacemaker typically doesn't have any adverse effects on a person’s sex life. In fact, if a person’s sex life was limited before the pacemaker due to the excessively slow heart rate, it may be better after the pacemaker is implanted because the body will have more energy.

Are there any diet restrictions?
For overall heart health, physicians recommend following a heart-healthy diet. This is a diet low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber.

Will a cellular phone interfere with my pacemaker?
You can use a cellular phone without any problems with most pacemakers. Ask your doctor about using a cellular phone.

Can pacemakers set off airport security and interfere with aviation navigation equipment?
Pacemaker recipients can travel without restrictions. Pacemakers do not prohibit patients from traveling, nor do they interfere with aviation navigation equipment. Passing through the metal detector at airports will not damage a pacemaker, but the metal in it may sound the alarm. If this happens, show security personnel your ICD identification card.

What is a pacemaker identification card?
This card lets everyone know that you have a pulse generator. You will get a temporary card at your implant. Your permanent card will be sent to you by the pacemaker manufacturer. It contains information on the type of pacemaker you have and other important information. If you are ever in a medical emergency, this card will give emergency personnel critical data that could save your life. Keep it with you at all times.

What is EMI?
EMI means electromagnetic interference. Certain types of electrical or magnetic energy can interfere with your pulse generator's operation. You should do your best to avoid major sources of EMI.

What causes EMI?
EMI or electromagnetic interference can be caused by:

  • Electrical appliances in poor condition or not grounded correctly
  • Electrical equipment that produces a great deal of energy, like industrial generators
  • Certain devices, notably arc-welders
  • Medical equipment including MRI devices, therapeutic radiation, and TENS (pain-control devices)

What electrical equipment is safe to use?
Most home appliances in good working order are safe to use. This includes microwave ovens, blenders, toasters, electric knives, ultrasonic dental cleaners, televisions, VCRs, electric blankets, electric stoves, and garage door openers.

Office equipment and most medical equipment is safe to use. The pacemaker will work properly during chest and dental x-rays, diagnostic ultrasound, CT scan, mammography, and fluoroscopy.

What should I do if I am near a source of EMI?
In most cases you can just walk away from the EMI source or turn it off. At airports, show the security personnel your pacemaker identification card so that you do not have to walk through the metal detector. If you feel symptoms such as lightheadedness or palpitations after being near an EMI source, contact your doctor.

What if I am going into a hospital or clinic?
Tell the hospital personnel that you have a pacemaker before you undergo any medical or dental procedure or test. Talk to your doctor if you have to undergo the following medical procedures:

  • Diathermy
  • Electrosurgery
  • Electrocautery
  • External defibrillation
  • Lithotripsy
  • Radiation therapy
  • MRI

Will an iPod® music player or other portable multi-media player interfere with my Pacemaker?
There is no clear indication that compact multi-media players, such as iPod products or mp3 players, interfere with the normal function of a pacemaker.