Home Care after Permanent Pacemaker Placement
This handout will help you learn how to care
for yourself after having a permanent
pacemaker placed. A nurse will review this
with you before you go home
What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a small electronic device
placed just under your skin, above the layer
of muscle. It helps pace your heart in order
to keep a healthy heart rate. It senses if the
heart is beating too slowly or pausing too
long between heart beats. If it senses a slow
rate or a pause that is too long, it will send
electrical pulses to keep your heart rate
Details about Your Pacemaker
Date your pacemaker was placed: ________
by Dr. __________________.
Rate of your pacemaker: _______________
It may change with your activity level or
your body’s needs.
The company that made your pacemaker is
You will need a clinic visit 2-3 weeks after
your pacemaker is placed. The site will be
checked to see how you are healing. The
pacemaker will also be checked. This is also
Your follow-up visit is scheduled:
Your pacemaker will be checked about
every 3 months. In some cases, we may be
able to alternate clinic visits with remote
checks from your home. We will talk about
this at your first clinic visit.
If DermaBond “Clear Glue” was applied to
your incision, you may shower the day after
If a dressing was applied over your incision:
ξ Leave the current bandage on
ξ Site should be kept clean, and dry
(no showering) for _____days
following the procedure. When you
do shower, let the soap and water run
down the incision.
ξ Do not scrub or rub the site.
ξ Gently clean the site with soap and
water. Pat dry and leave open to air.
ξ The steri strips (the thin pieces of
tape over the incision) hold the skin
together as it heals. These should be
left in place until they fall off on
their own or the nurse will remove
them at your first visit.
Do not use any lotions or ointments over
the incisions. As the site heals, you may
feel itching, this is normal. Do not
scratch or rub the site.
Look at the site daily for any signs of
ξ Warmth over the site
ξ Increased tenderness
ξ Fever (101° F or greater)
If you notice any of the above, you will need
to call the device clinic the same day at
If you have pain at the site, you may take
any mild pain reliever that has worked for
you in the past such as acetaminophen
(Tylenol ) or ibuprofen (Motrin ).
For 2 months, on the side your device was
ξ Do not raise your elbow above your
shoulder or any other movements
that cause you to stretch.
ξ Do not lift more than 5 pounds of
weight on your surgical side.
ξ Do not reach above your head or out
to the side.
No swimming, overhead motions, or golfing
for 3 months.
Avoid dental work for 1 month.
Wear a sling on the arm of pacemaker
placement at night for the first week
No driving for 1 week after the procedure
(or longer if recommended by your health
Pacemaker ID Card
You have been given a temporary ID card.
Carry your card with you at all times. The
device company will mail your permanent
card to you in about 2 months. Be sure to let
all people know you see for your health and
dental care that you have a permanent
pacemaker. This includes all doctors, nurses,
dentists, and chiropractors or any other
person you see for your health care.
There are certain electrical hazards to be
aware of. See below for a list of cautions,
things to avoid, and devices that are okay to
be around. This is just a partial list. For
more information, call your device company.
The phone number is on the back of your ID
ξ Working under the hood of a running
ξ MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
ξ Electrocautery-in the operating room
or in the dentist’s office.
ξ Arc welding.
ξ Therapeutic radiation
ξ Cell phones: These should be 6
inches from your pacemaker. Place
the phone on the ear opposite of your
pacemaker or use a headset.
ξ Theft detection devices: These are
often around the entrances of stores.
Walk through them as you normally
would. Do not linger near these.
ξ Airport security: Tell security staff
you have a device. Show them the
Medical Device ID card.
ξ Magnets: Magnetic snap closures (in
jackets), magnetic name badges, and
any electronic equipment with a
magnetic strip. Anything with a
magnet should be 6-8 inches from
Okay to be around
ξ Microwave ovens
ξ Hair dryers
ξ Electric blankets and heating pads
ξ Radios, TVs ,and stereos
When to Call
Call the doctor or pacemaker nurse
the same day if:
ξ You feel dizzy, lightheaded, or the
symptoms come back that you had
before your pacemaker was placed.
ξ Your heart rate drops below the
programmed rate, call the Pacemaker
Clinic. If you cannot get in touch
with the clinic, call your local doctor.
ξ You have any signs of infection.
Who to Call
UW Health Heart and Vascular Clinic
ξ Monday to Friday: (608) 263-1530
ξ After hours, nights, weekend, and
holidays this number is answered by
the messaged center. Ask for the
cardiology fellow on call. Give the
operator your full name and phone
number with the area code. The
doctor will call you back.
ξ If you live out of the area, please call
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if
you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your
doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care
team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2017 University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing.