To ensure proper healing, do not lift the affected arm’s elbow above the level of your shoulder for 2 months. Do not lift or push more than 10 pounds for 2 months. Do not drive for 72 hours. The dressing should come off the day after you are discharged from the hospital. The initial dressing is waterproof, so you may shower with this on. After the dressing is removed, you may shower, but try to keep the site dry for 1 week. Try not to pick at the glue on your skin. Do not submerge or swim until a scar is formed. Once the wound is completely healed (about 2 months), you can resume any vigorous activity that your doctor allows. If you are discharged with a prescription for an antibiotic, be sure to take these until the supply is gone.
Notify Your Doctor Immediately If You Notice Fever, Pus And/Or Drainage.
You will have an appointment 1 to 2 weeks after implantation of the pacemaker to inspect the surgical incision to make sure it is well healed. Again, be sure to call if there are any concerns about the appearance of the surgical site.
You will have a second appointment 2-3 months after the implantation. This appointment is crucial because a check will be done to ensure the pacemaker is functioning properly. The pacemaker will be reprogrammed to maximize the life of the battery. A pacemaker that is not reprogrammed may last less than half the expected life of the battery.
Replacing the Pacemaker
The pacemaker generally lasts 7 to 10 years, depending on many factors including how often it paces the heart and how much energy it uses when pacing. The pacemaker alerts the physician when it needs replacement by changing the rate at which it paces. This is recognized by the telephone monitoring service or during a routine office visit. A new pacemaker can be inserted as an outpatient procedure. It is performed under local anesthesia in less than one hour.
Usually, only the pulse generator (battery) needs to be replaced. Rarely though, a problem is discovered with one of the pacing wires. If this is the case, the wire is replaced and you may need to spend the following night in the hospital.
Long-term Use of Your Pacemaker
Shooting a Gun: Shooting a gun is fine after the device in in place. When shooting a rifle, care should be taken to avoid placing the butt of the gun over the device itself, and shooting with the opposite arm is recommended.
Appliances: You may operate any electrical device in your home. Modern pacemakers are seldom affected by normally operating home appliances, such as microwave ovens.
Airport Metal Detectors: Airport metal detectors will not affect your pacemaker, although pacemakers may occasionally set off the metal detectors. If this happens, show the security guard your pacemaker identification card (so be sure to carry your card!). The pacemaker itself is not affected by the metal detector.
Cellular Phones: It is unlikely that a cellular phone will interfere with the pacemaker. The phone should not be carried in a pocket over the pacemaker.
Special Work Conditions: Patients who work near high-voltage lines, transmitting towers, large motors, welding equipment, or powerful magnets should discuss their specific situation with their physician. It is possible for such equipment to temporarily prevent the pacemaker from pacing. Most patients will not even be aware that this is happening. To be safe, however, pacemaker patients should keep at least 10 feet away from such equipment.
Radiation Therapy: Should you ever require radiation therapy for any reason, care must be taken to avoid irradiating the pacemaker.
Surgery: Finally, should you require surgery in the future, some electrosurgical devices can interfere with pacemaker function. You should discuss this with your surgeon prior to any operation.
If you have any questions, please call the clinic at (903) 838-5500 or (903) 794-4282 after hours.
Thank you for letting us be a part of your care.
Kevin R. Hayes MD
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