Pacemaker (cont.)

What are the risks of pacemaker surgery?

Pacemaker surgery generally is safe. If problems do occur, they may include:

  • Swelling, bleeding, bruising, or infection in the area where the pacemaker was placed
  • Blood vessel or nerve damage
  • A collapsed lung
  • A bad reaction to the medicine used during the procedure

Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of pacemaker surgery.

How will a pacemaker affect my lifestyle?

Once you have a pacemaker, you have to avoid close or prolonged contact with electrical devices or devices that have strong magnetic fields. Devices that can interfere with a pacemaker include:

  • Cell phones and MP3 players (for example, iPods)
  • Household appliances, such as microwave ovens
  • High-tension wires
  • Metal detectors
  • Industrial welders
  • Electrical generators

These devices can disrupt the electrical signaling of your pacemaker and stop it from working properly. You may not be able to tell whether your pacemaker has been affected.

How likely a device is to disrupt your pacemaker depends on how long you're exposed to it and how close it is to your pacemaker.

To be safe, some experts recommend not putting your cell phone or MP3 player in a shirt pocket over your pacemaker (if the devices are turned on).

You may want to hold your cell phone up to the ear that's opposite the site where your pacemaker is implanted. If you strap your MP3 player to your arm while listening to it, put it on the arm that's farther from your pacemaker.

You can still use household appliances, but avoid close and prolonged exposure, as it may interfere with your pacemaker.

You can walk through security system metal detectors at your normal pace. Security staff can check you with a metal detector wand as long as it isn't held for too long over your pacemaker site. You should avoid sitting or standing close to a security system metal detector. Notify security staff if you have a pacemaker.

Also, stay at least 2 feet away from industrial welders and electrical generators.

Some medical procedures can disrupt your pacemaker. These procedures include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI
  • Shock-wave lithotripsy to get rid of kidney stones
  • Electrocauterization to stop bleeding during surgery

Let all of your doctors, dentists, and medical technicians know that you have a pacemaker. Your doctor can give you a card that states what kind of pacemaker you have. Carry this card in your wallet. You may want to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace that states that you have a pacemaker.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2014

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Pacemaker - Describe Your Experience Question: Do you or a relative have a pacemaker? In what ways has it changed your lifestyle?
Pacemaker - Surgery Question: Describe what surgery is like to receive a pacemaker.
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