What is a Pacemaker?
- A pacemaker is a small electrical device surgically placed inside the body to help control the heartbeat. There are many reasons for needing a pacemaker. Your cardiologist will explain the reason to you.
- You had a pacemaker placed on ______________________ by Dr. ______________________
- The rate your pacemaker is set at is a range of ______________________.
- The rate will vary with your activity level or your body’s needs.
- CHOC Children’s Hospital Pacemaker Clinic (714) 502-3939
- Purpose: 2- 4 week check
What can I expect after surgery?
- The length of stay in the hospital after pacemaker placement will vary. During this time, we will monitor your child’s heartbeat and rhythm.
- Your child may feel some discomfort at the pacemaker site. At home, you cangive Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help make your child more comfortable. If the pain continues call your doctor.
How do I care for the incision?
- A small cut will be made either in the chest or the stomach for the pacemaker. It will be covered with Steri-strips (small strips of tape). At home keep the cut dry and clean. Leave the Steri-strips over the site until they fall off, usually in 1-2 weeks. Do not pick at the Steri-strips.
- For the first 10 days, give your child sponge baths, keeping the area dry. After 10days your child may shower.
- Avoid using any creams, lotions or ointments on the site. Do not scrub the incision site. There may be some itching but try not to scratch or rub.
- Avoid tight clothing around the incision site while it is healing.
When can my child return to school?
- Your doctor will tell you when your child can return to school.
- Tell your child’s teacher and school nurse about the pacemaker and any activity limits your child will have. Treat them as normal as possible.
How active can my child be?
- Most children return to a normal level of play. During the first 4-6 weeks, limit your child’s sports activities. Your child should not lift their arm over their head on the side of the pacemaker for the first 4-6 weeks. Your child should avoid climbing, swinging, jumping rope or other activity that involves a lot of overhead arm activity.
- Contact sports where they could receive a blow to the pacemaker site is not recommended. Your doctor will tell you when your child can restart sports andgym class.
Will any electrical devices interfere with my child’s pacemaker?
- The pacemaker is designed to be safe around most electrical devices. This includes microwaves, computers, hair dryers, radios, televisions, electric blankets, garage door openers and office supplies.
- Airport security screening should not affect your child’s pacemaker. Your child can walk through the airport screening as you normally would. The pacemaker may set off a metal detector. Be prepared to show the pacemaker ID card. If a hand search is done request that it be done quickly, and the wand not held over the pacemaker for more than a second.
- It is recommended to keep cell phones 6 inches away from the pacemaker.Avoid carrying the cell phone in the pocket over the pacemaker.
- A few things might cause interference with the pacemaker. These include magnets, heavy-duty electrical equipment, and some surgical tools.
- If your child needs an MRI, please talk about this with your Cardiologist.
- Your child should avoid items that have magnets .
- You will receive an ID card for your child’s pacemaker. The card will say what kindof pacemaker your child has. You will receive a permanent card in the mail from the company. It is important to carry this with you at all times.
- Your child should also wear an ID bracelet or necklace that identifies the type of pacemaker and who to call in case of emergency.
Follow Up Care
- Having the pacemaker checked regularly is important. Your doctor will tell you when to make an appointment to check the pacemaker.
- You will receive a telephone transmitter, or you will be asked to download an application to your cell phone. This will allow you to send information about your pacemaker and how it functions to the doctor.
- Routine transmissions will be scheduled for you within the first 2 weeks after implant or hospital discharge and every three months unless otherwise recommended by your Cardiologist.
- If you experience any symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, fatigue, or feeling faint), you should send a transmission. It will be reviewed by the doctor and/or nurse practitioner. If we need more information, you will receive a phone call from the doctor’s office. Any questions or concerns related to the pacemaker can be directed to the nurse practitioner at any time.
- You may be asked to check your child’s pulse. The pulse is the number of times the heart beats per minute. Your nurse can instruct you how to check your child’s pulse.
When should I call the cardiologist?
If your child has any of the following:
- Increased drainage, bleeding, swelling, warmth, redness, pain or opening of the incision site.
- Fever higher than 102 degrees F
- Decrease in activity level
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, arms or wrists
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- Breathing faster and harder
- Color changes: blue lips and/or nailbeds
If your child is having any surgical procedures or dental work, please ask your Cardiologist if any safety steps need to be taken. Your child also may need to take an antibiotic before any procedures to prevent infection of the pacemaker.
How long will the pacemaker last?
- Pacemaker batteries usually last 4-10 years, depending on how often it is used.
- When the battery becomes low, the pacemaker will need to be changed. With good follow up care, your child’s Cardiologist will be able to plan ahead for when the battery needs to be changed.