What is a pacemaker? Is there anything special I should do at home
after my pacemaker surgery? How do I know if my pacemaker is working?
A pacemaker is an electronic device that is placed
under your skin - near your chest - to help you After surgery: 1ST
have a regular heart beat.
Do not raise the arm closest to your Know the rate at which the pacemaker is set.
It is made up of two parts: pacemaker over your head for 4 weeks. To take your pulse : Use the tips of your
1.- The pulse generator contains the battery The next day, after the surgery , you can second and third fingers to press firmly
and the software to control the number of do gentle movements with your arm like against the pulse points on your wrist, or
electrical impulses that the pacemaker sends to brush your teeth, brush your hair, eat, get on the side of your lower neck. Ask your
the heart. dressed, etc. nurse to show you how to count your pulse .
2.-The electrodes (or wires) carry the electrical Do not play golf, tennis or swimming for 8 Call your doctor if the rate is 10 beats less
impulse from the battery to your heart. weeks. After this time, the wires of the than the rate at which the pacemaker is set.
pacemaker will be totally stuck in the inner
Why do I need a pacemaker? part of your heart and you can return to 2nd Call your doctor if you are having any
your normal life. problems such as:
You need a pacemaker to help you have a Call your doctor right away if you notice Chest pain
stronger and regular heart beat. swelling or redness around the area where Dizziness
the pacemaker was inserted, or if you have Palpitations ( heart skips a beat)
How do I get ready for pacemaker surgery? a fever. During the first week it is very Swelling in your legs and ankles
important that the surgical area be kept Shortness of breath
Before surgery you need to: clean, so as to avoid risk of infection. It is Fainting spells
Stop taking any aspirin your doctor may recommended to wash it every day with a
have prescribed, or aspirin you take on disinfectant soap (Bactex, Protex, Sterop, What are some safety rules?
your own, at least 1 week before your etc) then dry it very well with a clean 1- When using an electric shaver, do not hold
surgery. If you take Coumadin (blood cloth. You can use an antiseptic spray over the razor directly over the pacemaker. Do
thinner), stop taking your Coumadin 3-5 the surgical area and cover it with clean not rest your hand with the razor on top of
days before surgery. gauze every day during the first three the battery.
Shave or use a hair removal cream to take days, at the fourth day you can leave it 2- Stay away from power plants, radar
off the hair from your chest , and the hair exposed. Don´t use ointments or creams stations, factories and MRI/Diagnostic
under your arms. over the injury. Centers.
Do not scrub the site. After your shower, 3- Do not work on a car when the car motor
pat the area and dry well. is running.
The suture on your skin will be removed 4- There is no problem with the normal use
after 8 days. of new microwave oven models.
5- Use a cellular phone on the opposite Follow-up and maintenance of pacemaker
side of the pacemaker. Cordless
phones for home use are OK. Check-ups are possible with a specific computer
6- Things that a person with a that communicates with the pacemaker through an
appliance specifically designed for this function.
pacemaker should avoid:
Your physician will know the status of the battery,
Lithotripsy the wires, and the others components of the
Nuclear magnetic resonance system, also, the configuration of the pacemaker
Electrocautery, 20 cms around the can be changed to adapt it to your living style.
Massage over the pacemaker Have the pacemaker checked 2 months after
Therapies that use electric shock implantation, then every 6 months.
over the skin or muscles.
Who should know that I have a pacemaker?
1- Tell any doctor, nurse, hospital or clinic
worker, dentist, physical therapist or
chiropractor that is treating you that you have
2- In case of an emergency it is important to
carry your pacemaker identification card with
3- In places where metal scanners are in use,
like airports, banks, stores and others; you may
show your Pacemaker Carrier ID. This ID
should be part of your personal documents and
Dra. Vivien Araya Gómez, F.H.R.S, FACC
it is very important when you are on a trip Cardióloga- Electrofisióloga
outside the country and for any reason you Knowing Your Pacemaker
need medical attention, all the information in Centro Cardiológico Integral
you ID will be helpful for the person that will Tels: 2221-2921/ 2233-8755
attend you. www.centrocardiologicocr.com
The representative of the manufacturing
San José Costa Rica
company is responsible for giving you this ID.