Frequently Asked Questions About Pacemakers

Some frequently asked questions about pacemakers:

  • Do cellular phones interfere with pacemakers?
    The answer to this question depends on the type of cellular phone being used. Today’s pacemakers are engineered to withstand interference from analog cellular phones. However, in some cases, digital cellular phones may interfere with pacemakers. According to the American Heart Association, a group of cellular phone companies is studying the newer cellular phones with new frequency and their effect on pacemakers.
  • Do pacemakers need to be adjusted periodically?
    Some pacemakers may need to be adjusted if a person’s medical condition or lifestyle changes. Your physician will instruct you about the schedule of follow-up visits you should keep based on your condition and type of device. In addition, you may participate in telephonic assessment of your device on a periodic basis.
  • When replacing a pacemaker, are the leads also replaced? (Leads are the actual wires that carry the electrical charges to areas of the heart.)
    If the original leads are functioning properly, in most cases, they can be left in place and reattached to the new pacemaker.
  • When do I have to replace my pacemaker?
    Most pacemakers will last between 8 and 10 years, after which the entire pacemaker or its battery and/or wire(s) need to be replaced. Replacing a pacemaker may be done on an outpatient basis or may include an overnight stay in the hospital.
  • Can I travel with my pacemaker?
    Yes, you can travel with your pacemaker and drive a car. You should be sure to always have your pacemaker identification card with you wherever you go.
  • Can I exercise with a pacemaker?
    Upon consulting your physician, you may be able to enjoy moderate exercise with your pacemaker, including housework and yard work.
  • Will I feel the pacemaker?
    At first, you may feel the weight of the pacemaker in your chest. However, over time, most people become accustomed to the pacemaker. The generator is very small, about the size of two silver dollars stacked on top of each other, and weighs about an ounce or less, depending on the make and model of the device.