How do I prepare for my pacemaker implant?
You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome.
You can prepare for a pacemaker implant by:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
- Arranging a ride home from the hospital. Your doctor may not want you to drive for a period of time after a pacemaker implant.
- Following exactly any instructions about eating and drinking before a pacemaker implant.
- Informing your doctor or radiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility of pregnancy
- Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing varies depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
- Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
- Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners.
Questions to ask your doctor
Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a brief doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before your procedure and between appointments.
It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:
- Why do I need a pacemaker implant? Are there any other options for treating my condition?
- Which type of pacemaker implant will I need?
- How long will the surgery take? When can I go home?
- What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?
- What kinds of electrical devices should I avoid? What kinds of medical testing should I avoid?
- What kind of assistance will I need at home?
- What medications will I need before and after the surgery? How should I take my regular medications?
- How will you treat my pain?
- When should I follow up with you?
- How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.
What can I expect after my pacemaker implant?
Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after a pacemaker implant as smooth as possible.
How long will it take to recover?
You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. A hospital stay of one to two days is usually required. This allows your care team to monitor your heart rhythm and make sure that your pacemaker is working properly. You will go home with instructions on when to follow up and how to care for your pacemaker.
Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. Your doctor may ask you to avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting for about a month after surgery. Full recovery times vary, but most people are back to their normal light to moderate activities within a few days.
How will I feel after my pacemaker implant?
You may have mild pain, swelling and tenderness at the placement site for several days after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medicines can reduce discomfort. Speak with your doctor before taking any pain medication and only take pain medication exactly as directed. Tell your doctor or care team if your pain is not well controlled by your medication because it can be a sign of a complication.
When should I call my doctor?
You should keep your follow-up appointments after a pacemaker implant. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have: