ANNOUNCER: After pacemaker implantation, there are important steps and precautions patients must take to ensure that their pacemakers continue to function properly.
DOUGLAS P. ZIPES, MD: After the pacemaker is implanted, the symptoms produced by the slow heartbeat or the fast heartbeat should be taken care of by the pacemaker; that's the reason for the implantation. And then we follow the patient. Many of the follow-ups are done electronically or over the telephone so the patient does not have to come in physically to be evaluated.
With other patients, they indeed do need to come in. They may have what we call comorbidities. In other words, they have another problem, heart failure or coronary disease, that needs to be followed as well as just having the pacemaker.
ANNOUNCER: And after several months of limiting physical activity, patients can usually resume their normal routines.
DOUGLAS P. ZIPES, MD: We generally restrict an individual from major arm movements, such as lifting your arms above your head, combing your hair, playing golf, because that movement can make the wire in the heart move and change its position. After several months, that's no longer an issue, but until that time we generally want an individual to just kind of restrict their upper arm movement.
JAMIE B. CONTI, MD: People often ask, you know, "What can I do after I have a pacemaker implanted? Will I be limited in any way?" We have patients whose heart rates were so slow because of being marathon runners or extreme sports people. When they get their pacemaker, they can go back to regular activity.
ANNOUNCER: Although microwave ovens and other household appliances no longer affect people with pacemakers, there are still precautions to take in public places.
DOUGLAS P. ZIPES, MD: A couple of cautionary things. One is when you go to the airport, notify the airport security as you're going through the detector that indeed you do have a pacemaker implanted, because it can set off the alarm. The other is, there are theft detector electronic equipments that are found in department stores and bookstores and so on, and they will have no impact on the pacemaker if the individual just takes a leisurely stroll through the theft detector equipment, but we would not want the individual to stand right within that field and be exposed to it
ANNOUNCER: In the end, a pacemaker will help a patient live a more normal and active life, with little to no inconvenience.