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Abnormal Heart Rhythms and Pacemakers

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Sex After a Heart Attack

As a psychologist who has counseled heart patients for more than 30 years, Wayne Sotile, PhD, knows exactly how much they worry about sex after a heart attack. "And if they're not anxious, believe me, their partner is anxious," he says. Couples worry about triggering a second heart attack, or even that a patient could die in the bedroom. But Sotile and cardiologists tell WebMD that sex isn't nearly as risky as many patients believe. With a touch of reassurance, heart patients can once...

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How Should I Prepare to Get a Pacemaker?

Before your procedure to get a pacemaker implanted:

  • Ask your doctor what medications you are allowed to take. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications 1 to 5 days before the procedure. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor how you should adjust your diabetes medications.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before the procedure. If you must take medications, take them only with a small sip of water.
  • When you come to the hospital, wear comfortable clothes. You will change into a hospital gown for the procedure. Leave all jewelry and valuables at home.

 

How Are Pacemakers Implanted?

Pacemakers are implanted two ways:

  • Endocardial approach. This is the most common technique used.
    • A local anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) is given to numb the area. An incision is made in the chest where the leads and pacemaker are inserted.
    • The lead(s) is inserted through the incision and into a vein, then guided to the heart with the aid of the fluoroscopy machine.
    • The lead tip attaches to the heart muscle, while the other end of the lead (attached to the pulse generator) is placed in a pocket created under the skin in the upper chest.
  • Epicardial approach. This technique is more commonly used in children than adults.
    • A surgeon performs this procedure in a surgical suite. General anesthesia is given to put you to sleep.
    • The surgeon attaches the lead tip to the heart muscle, while the other end of the lead (attached to the pulse generator) is placed in a pocket created under the skin in the abdomen.
    • Although recovery with the epicardial approach is longer than that of the transvenous approach, minimally invasive techniques have enabled shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times.

The doctor will determine, which pacemaker implant method is best for you.

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