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Heart Problems: Living With a Pacemaker

A pacemaker keeps your heart from beating too slowly. It's important to know how this device works and how to keep it working right. Learning a few important facts about pacemakers can help you get the best results from your device.

You may have a device that combines a pacemaker and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which can shock your heart back to a normal rhythm. For more information on ICDs, see actionset.gif Heart Problems: Living With an ICD.

Key points

  • Avoid strong magnetic and electrical fields. These can keep your device from working right.
  • Most office equipment and home appliances are safe to use. Learn which things you should use with caution and which you should stay away from.
  • Be sure that any doctor, dentist, or other health professional you see knows that you have a pacemaker.
  • Always carry a card in your wallet that tells what kind of device you have. Wear medical alert jewelry that says you have a pacemaker.
  • Have your pacemaker checked regularly to make sure it is working right.

what.gif What is a pacemaker?
why.gif Why does a pacemaker need to be checked regularly?
how.gif How do you get the best results from a pacemaker?
where.gif Where to go from here

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Other Works Consulted

  • Akoum NW, et al. (2008). Pacemaker therapy. In EG Nabel, ed., ACP Medicine, section 1, chap. 7. Hamilton, ON: BC Decker.

  • Baddour LM, et al. (2010). Update on cardiovascular implantable electronic device infections and their management. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 121(3): 458–477.

  • Lee S, et al. (2009). Clinically significant magnetic interference of implanted cardiac devices by portable headphones. Heart Rhythm, 6(10): 1432–1436.

  • Levine GN, et al. (2012). Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 125(8): 1058–1072.

  • Sears SF, et al. (2005). How to respond to an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shock. Circulation, 111(23): e380–e382.

  • Swerdlow CD, et al. (2012). Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 745–770. Philadelphia: Saunders.

  • Wilkoff BL, et al. (2008). HRS/EHRA expert consensus on the monitoring of cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIEDS): Description of techniques, indications, personnel, frequency, and ethical considerations. Heart Rhythm, 5(6): 907–925. Available online:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Last RevisedApril 20, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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