Living with a Pacemaker
Boston Scientific encourages you to discuss any concerns about your pacemaker with your healthcare provider. This will help you develop a good understanding of your heart condition. Things you should discuss include medication, rest, returning to work, possible sources of device interference, and exercise.
A Patient Experience
“With my first pacemaker, sweeping the floor or walking I would get tired very quickly. When I went on to get my second pacemaker, I didn’t expect it to be any different. Was I surprised! I hadn’t felt this good in a long time. I don’t know what I can’t do.”
- Implanted Device Checklist >>
- Special Pacemaker Feature >>
- Device Checks and Follow-ups >>
- Replacing Your Pacemaker >>
Implanted Device Checklist
The Implanted Device Checklist includes general recommendations. Your healthcare provider may have guidelines that are more specific for you.
- At all times, carry your patient ID card for emergency reference.
- Take the medications prescribed for you as instructed by your healthcare provider.
- Visit your healthcare provider or pacemaker clinic for regular checkups.
- Tell your family doctor, dentist, and emergency personnel that you have an implanted device.
With your new pacing system and the guidance of your healthcare provider, you should soon return to your normal activities. For most people, work, hobbies, sexual activity, travel, and other aspects of their lifestyle are no different once they have a pacemaker. Your pacemaker will help you enjoy as active and productive a lifestyle as your overall health permits.
Remember that your pacemaker is designed to monitor and treat your slow heart rate and relieve your symptoms. It can be a great source of reassurance for you and your friends and family.
"I would rather go with an electronic device that I know works very well than my heart which may not work so well." Beverley Seaver - for more on Beverley's story, watch the video below.
Beverley Seaver, Syncope Patient - Watch the Video [00:42]
Special pacemaker feature: Blended Sensor
In the normal heart, when you get up and perform an activity like walking, bending, lifting, and other physical tasks, your heart automatically beats faster to accommodate the activity you may be doing.
After a short walk, a normal heart rate should be 90 beats per minute (bpm) or higher.
- If you are under age 65, you may get your heart rate above 90 bpm more than 175 times per day (more than 10 times per hour on average).
- If you are over age 65, you may get your heart rate above 90 bpm more than 150 times per day (more than 9 times per hour on average).¹
Heart disease may affect the heart’s electrical activity. The heart is not able to respond automatically to changes in activity. This is called chronotropic incompetence.
Pacemakers have sensors to help restore the responsiveness of your heart rate so that you can resume most everyday activities. This type of pacing is called rate-responsive or adaptive-rate pacing.
For example, the types of sensors used in Boston Scientific pacemakers today include the following:
- An accelerometer is a “motion sensor” that responds when your body is moving through space, such as standing up and walking.
- The minute ventilation sensor is a “physiologic sensor” that responds to increases in breathing rate and depth while you are active, such as carrying a load of groceries or walking up stairs.
- A blended sensor uses both types of sensors, an accelerometer and a minute ventilation sensor, and blends the information from both sensors to provide an appropriate paced heart rate.
DDD pacing with normal A-V conducted beats, atrial paced beats, and pacing in both the atrium and the ventricle. A DDD pacemaker can keep a normal heart rate during changes in conduction.
When the Boston Scientific Minute Ventilation blended sensor detects this increase in activity, it adapts its pacing rate for Life-Adaptive PacingTM. The heart rate changes with the needs of the body during everyday activities, such as walking up stairs, carrying groceries, lifting boxes, doing laundry, exercising, or weight training. It is the only sensor clinically proven to restore chronotropic competence – a normal heart rate response to activity.2
Your healthcare provider can explain the type of sensor in your pacemaker.
Device Checks and Follow-ups
Your doctor will schedule regular follow-up visits. Your healthcare provider may call this a pacemaker check, interrogation, or follow-up visit.
There are two follow-up options: in-office visits and remote follow-up sessions.
In-office follow-up visits
Your healthcare provider will schedule regular in-office follow-up visits. A typical follow-up visit takes about 20 minutes. It is important that you attend these visits, even if you are feeling well.
During your visit, the healthcare provider will check the pacemaker's settings and collect information stored in its memory. This is done simply and painlessly with a computer-like device that "talks" to the pacemaker with radio signals. They will test the lead wires that are connected to your pacemaker and check the battery to see how much energy is left. If necessary, they will adjust your device's programmed settings.
Remote follow-up sessions
A remote follow-up session is done away from the office using the
LATITUDE NXT Patient Management system:
- You will receive a home monitoring unit called a Communicator that sends information through either a standard telephone line or cellular connection.
- The Communicator is used to interrogate your device on a schedule that is set by your healthcare provider.
- Information from your device is sent to a secure database that only your healthcare support team and view.
Note: The Communicator cannot reprogram or change any functions of your device. Your healthcare provider can only do this using a programmer during an in-office visit.
You may have some follow-up visits done in the office, and others done at home with the remote monitoring system.
Replacing your pacemaker
In addition to checking the system's function, your healthcare provider will check the energy in the pacemaker's battery. A battery, safely sealed inside your device, provides the energy needed to monitor your heart rhythm and pace your heart. The pacemaker has a replacement indicator that helps your healthcare provider determine when to schedule a new device.
To replace your pacemaker, your doctor will surgically open the pocket of skin where your device is located. Your old device is disconnected from your leads and then the leads are checked to make sure they work properly with your new device. In rare instances, your leads may not work properly with your new device, and your doctor may need to replace the leads.
Your doctor will then connect the leads to your new device. Finally, the new pacemaker system is tested to make sure it is working properly. After the testing is complete, the pocket of skin will be stitched closed. You may experience some discomfort from the incision as you recover from the surgery. You should be able to return to normal activities soon after the procedure.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about the potential risks when making decisions about replacing your system.
Other helpful information can be found in these sections:
Individual symptoms, situations, circumstances, and results may vary. Please consult your physician or qualified health care provider regarding your condition, appropriate medical treatment. The information provided is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice.
2. Chronotropic competence is defined by the Model of the Cardiac Chronotropic Response to Exercise, Wilkoff et al. A mathematical model of the cardiac chronotropic response to exercise. Journal of Electrophysiology 1989:3: 176-180. Refer to the Physician's System Guide for more information on adaptive-rate therapy. Additional clinical performance was assessed using INSIGNIA Ultra clinical data with the AutoLifestyle feature programmed On. Data on file*. Boston Scientific Corporation. ALTRUA 60 Pacemaker System Guide. 2008. pg 1-28.