April 01, 2019

Life with a pacemaker

Pacemaker technology is dependable, but there are precautions you need to take, including:

  • Checking with your doctor about vigorous activity — About four weeks after implantation, your doctor will likely give you the OK to resume normal activities. While exercise is encouraged, ask your doctor before starting a vigorous program or sport. Avoid activities that may involve jarring impact.
  • Keeping your card handy — You'll be issued a card containing information related to your pacemaker. Keep the card with you at all times. It can be vital in the case of an emergency, and can help resolve problems at security checkpoints.
  • Being aware of electrical or magnetic interference — While unlikely, this can affect pacemaker function. It's OK to stand next to a running engine or use household appliances. Stay a few feet back from equipment such as arc welders, high-voltage transformers or motor generators.

Walk at normal speed through store security detectors or airport screening — though your device may trigger the alarm. Avoid lingering near security scanners. If airport personnel are using handheld metal detectors, ask them not to hold the device near your pacemaker or request a pat-down. Cellphone use is fine, but don't keep the phone in a breast pocket while it's turned on.

Let medical teams know that you have a pacemaker. Certain tests or treatments may need to be done carefully or not at all.