Living with a Pacemaker

Woman using cell phone.When you have a pacemaker, you can do almost everything you did before your surgery. Here are tips for living well with a pacemaker.

Carry an ID card

When you first get your pacemaker, you’ll be given an ID card to carry. This card contains important information about the device. Show it to any doctor, dentist, or other provider you visit. Pacemakers may set off metal detectors. So you may need to show your card to security personnel, such as those in the airport security checkpoint.

What to avoid

  • Be careful when using a cell phone. Hold it to the ear farthest from your pacemaker, or use a headset. Don’t carry the phone in your breast pocket, over the pacemaker, even when it’s turned off.

  • Avoid very strong magnets. These include those used for an MRI or in hand-held security wands. Some pacemaker devices are considered safer for having an MRI (MR-conditional devices) but safety precautions must still be used. Show your ID card when you go through security.

  • Avoid strong electrical fields. These are made by radio transmitting towers and ham radios. They are also made by heavy-duty electrical equipment. A running engine makes an electrical field. Don't lean over the open hood of a running car. Most household and yard appliances will not cause any problems. If you use any large power tools, such as an industrial arc welder, talk to your doctor. 

  • Call your doctor if you have any symptoms. These include dizziness or palpitations.

What’s OK

Below are some of the many things that are safe to use:

  • Microwave ovens

  • Computers

  • Hair dryers

  • Power tools

  • Radios, televisions, and CD players

  • Electric blankets and heating pads

  • Vacuum cleaners

  • Cars

Follow up

Plan to have periodic checkps with your healthcare provider to evaluate the battery life of your pacemaker. Depending on your device and how much your body uses the pacing functions of the pacemaker, you will need a new pacemaker generator implanted at some point, usually about every 5 to 7 years. On average, this monitoring should happen every 6 months, or as advised by your healthcare provider.

For some devices, the monitoring of the device function and battery-life can be done with a remote monitor that can be set up in your home. Remote monitoring systems use the internet or telephone to communicate the information from your device to your healthcare provider.