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How Long Can You Live With a Pacemaker

How Long Can You Live With a Pacemaker?

Living with a pacemaker may seem like a daunting prospect, but the truth is that these life-changing devices can significantly improve the quality of life for millions of people worldwide. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of pacemakers, including “How long can you live with a pacemaker”, the impact on daily activities, maintenance and monitoring, safety precautions, and potential complications. Are you ready to embark on this journey to better understand how you or your loved ones can live a fulfilling life with a pacemaker? Let’s dive in!

Understanding Pacemaker Lifespan

Understanding Pacemaker Lifespan

Pacemakers are remarkable devices, designed to restore a normal heart rhythm for patients with various cardiac conditions. As technology advances, these devices become more efficient and reliable, lasting for extended periods. Typically, a pacemaker from a reputable manufacturer can last for 10 years or more.

However, the life expectancy of a pacemaker may vary depending on factors such as battery life and lead longevity.

Battery Life

The battery life of a pacemaker is an essential factor that influences its overall lifespan. Generally, a pacemaker battery can last between eight and 10 years. Factors such as the type of pacemaker, the lifestyle of the patient, and the age of the patient may all influence the battery life of a pacemaker.

Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider are crucial to monitor the battery status and ensure the device’s optimal performance using checking devices provided by the device manufacturer.

Lead Longevity

Another critical aspect of pacemaker longevity is the leads, which connect the device to the heart. Generally, pacemaker leads do not require replacement and can remain functional for the duration of the patient’s life. However, in some cases, issues may arise that necessitate lead replacement.

To ensure the proper functioning of your pacemaker, it’s essential to consult with qualified medical personnel and follow their recommendations for lead longevity and maintenance.

Living a Normal Life with a Pacemaker

Living a Normal Life with a Pacemaker

One of the most common concerns for individuals with a pacemaker is whether they can live a normal life. Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes! A pacemaker allows patients to resume their daily activities and maintain a healthy lifestyle with minimal restrictions. The primary goal of a pacemaker is to address symptoms associated with bradycardia (slow heart rate) and restore a normal heart rhythm, ultimately improving the patient’s quality of life.

After the initial healing period, most patients can engage in their regular activities, including work, exercise, and even sports, with minimal limitations. However, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in any new activities or sports, as they can provide personalized advice based on your specific condition and pacemaker.

Daily Activities

Following pacemaker implantation, most patients can expect a recovery period of three to four weeks. During this time, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and avoid any strenuous activities. Once the incision site has healed, you can gradually resume your daily activities such as yard work, bathing, and even sexual activity. It’s important to be mindful of any legal restrictions, such as driving restrictions for six months after an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) has been implanted or if the device fires. We also wrote about the key differences between Defibrillators and Cardioversion procedures, which can be read here. Although this is a much different topic than what we are covering in this article, we’ve found that our visitors who are looking to gain more information on pacemakers have also expressed interest in the topic of defibrillator vs cardioversion.

In the event of unusual symptoms or concerns about engaging in a new activity (following a pacemaker procedure), always consult your healthcare provider for guidance. They can provide expert advice tailored to your specific needs and ensure that you can safely enjoy your favorite activities without compromising your health or the functionality of your pacemaker.

Exercise and Sports

$When it comes to exercise and sports, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before jumping back into your routine. They can assess your overall health and the performance of your pacemaker to ensure that your chosen activities are safe and appropriate for your condition. With proper guidance, many patients can return to their usual level of activity, including:

  • Body-weight exercises

  • Light resistance training

  • Yoga

  • Pilates

  • Barre

  • Tai chi

However, some exercises should be avoided with a pacemaker, such as strenuous lifting, stretching, and raising one’s arms above the head on the affected side. It’s essential to listen to your body and cease any activity that causes pain or discomfort. Additionally, monitor your heart rate and take regular breaks during exercise to ensure your safety and the optimal performance of your pacemaker.

Pacemaker Maintenance and Monitoring

Pacemaker Maintenance and Monitoring

To ensure that your pacemaker functions optimally and lasts as long as possible, regular maintenance and monitoring are essential. By keeping up with check-ups and monitoring, you can guarantee the proper functioning of your pacemaker and track any changes in your overall health. Your healthcare provider plays a vital role in maintaining your pacemaker and guiding you through the process.

Pacemaker evaluations can be conducted remotely, wirelessly, with the aid of a special device provided by your healthcare provider for remote monitoring and device interrogation. Additionally, in-person evaluations at your healthcare provider’s office should be conducted once or twice a year. Both remote and in-person check-ups are crucial to ensure your pacemaker’s proper functionality and address any issues that may arise.

In-Person Check-ups

In-person check-ups for pacemakers involve visiting a healthcare provider to evaluate the pacemaker’s function and the patient’s overall health. These check-ups are typically conducted around six weeks after the pacemaker is implanted and then every three to six months thereafter. During these check-ups, a device programmer is used to assess the pacemaker’s performance, including battery life, lead wire condition, and various functions.

The connection between the pacemaker and the device programmer is established using a special wand placed on the skin over the pacemaker or ICD, without the need for invasive procedures or device insertion. Regular check-ups are essential to guarantee the correct device function of the pacemaker and to keep track of the patient’s condition.

Remote Monitoring

Remote monitoring for pacemakers offers several benefits.

  • It provides regular monitoring of the pacemaker’s function

  • It can potentially decrease the number of in-person visits to the doctor

  • It allows for early detection of any issues with the pacemaker

  • It facilitates timely intervention if required

  • It assists in managing the device’s battery life

  • It enables vigilant monitoring of the patient’s condition

Most in-home device interrogation systems for pacemaker remote monitoring utilize wireless technology, often requiring a telephone or internet connection to transmit data to the healthcare provider. With the implementation of a remote monitoring system, numerous benefits are offered, but there are potential risks associated with it, such as data breaches, interference from other electronic devices, and the potential for false alarms.

Despite these risks, remote monitoring remains an invaluable tool in managing and maintaining your pacemaker.

Synchronized Cardioversion and Pacemakers

Synchronized cardioversion and pacemakers are both medical interventions related to the heart’s electrical activity, but they serve distinct purposes and function differently. Synchronized cardioversion is a procedure used to correct certain abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. During this procedure, a timed electric shock is delivered to the heart, synchronized with the heart’s own electrical cycle, aiming to reset the heart to a normal rhythm. This is typically done in acute situations to immediately address an abnormal rhythm. On the other hand, a pacemaker is a small, implanted device that helps regulate slow or irregular heart rhythms over the long term. It sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and rhythm. Essentially, while synchronized cardioversion is a one-time corrective action for specific arrhythmias, a pacemaker provides ongoing rhythm management, ensuring the heart maintains consistent, regular beats.

Is a Pacemaker an AED?

A pacemaker and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) are two distinct devices designed for different purposes concerning cardiac rhythms. A pacemaker is an implanted device that helps regulate slow or irregular heart rhythms, mainly ensuring that the heart doesn’t beat too slowly. In contrast, an AED is an external device used in emergency situations to detect and treat life-threatening arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia by delivering a shock to the heart.  Why is an AED needed? When someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest, every second counts. An AED is essential in these situations because it can rapidly analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to restore a normal rhythm, potentially saving a life. In summary, while both devices relate to heart rhythms, a pacemaker isn’t an AED; they serve different functions in the realm of cardiac care.

Precautions and Safety Measures

Precautions and Safety Measures

Living with a pacemaker requires certain safety precautions to ensure the device’s proper functioning and protect your health. While the pacemaker itself is designed to be resilient and reliable, it’s essential to follow the guidelines provided by your healthcare provider and the device company. These precautions may include avoiding activities that involve strong electromagnetic fields, such as MRI scans, and refraining from direct contact with metal objects.

Additionally, informing healthcare providers about your pacemaker before undergoing any medical procedures is crucial. This allows them to take necessary precautions to ensure your safety and prevent any potential interference with your pacemaker. By following these precautions and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can enjoy a fulfilling life with your pacemaker while minimizing potential risks and complications.

Electromagnetic Interference

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is a type of interference that can impact pacemakers. Common sources of EMI include MRI machines, household appliances such as microwave ovens, and even cell phones. To avoid potential interference with your pacemaker’s function, it’s essential to maintain a safe distance from these sources of EMI. For instance, it’s recommended to keep a distance of 6 inches or more between a cell phone and a pacemaker.

If an MRI scan is required, consult with your cardiologist before undergoing the procedure. Both parties must agree to move forward with the procedure. It is also essential that a cardiologist with a pacemaker programming device be closely monitored during MRI scanning. By taking these precautions, you can minimize the risk of EMI and ensure the continued proper functioning of your pacemaker.

Medical Procedures

Before undergoing any medical procedures, it’s imperative to inform your healthcare provider about your pacemaker. This enables them to take the necessary precautions to guarantee your safety and prevent any potential interference with your pacemaker. Some specific procedures that may affect pacemaker function include Lithotripsy, Transcutaneous electrocautery, and Diathermy.

Consulting with your healthcare provider before undergoing any medical procedures ensures that you receive expert advice on how to safely proceed with the procedure. By keeping your healthcare provider informed and following their guidance, you can minimize potential risks associated with medical procedures and maintain the proper functioning of your pacemaker.

Potential Complications and Risks

Potential Complications and Risks

Although pacemakers are designed to improve the quality of life for individuals with heart rhythm issues, there are potential complications and risks associated with pacemaker implantation and long-term use. These risks may include:

  • Blood clots

  • Infection

  • Pacemaker malfunction

  • Lead dislodgement

In addition, long-term risks related to pacemaker use include the possibility of lead dislodging or device malfunction. Being aware of these potential complications and risks can help you make informed decisions about your health and the management of your pacemaker.

By working closely with your healthcare provider and following their guidance, you can minimize these risks and ensure the proper functioning of your pacemaker throughout its lifespan.

Implantation Risks

While pacemaker implantation is generally a safe procedure, some risks and complications may occur in a small percentage of cases, such as:

  • Blood clots

  • Pacemaker infection

  • Air leak

  • Twiddler’s syndrome

These complications can have severe consequences if not addressed promptly by your healthcare provider.

Blood clots, for instance, can lead to stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism. Pacemaker infection can manifest with fever, redness, and swelling. Air leaks may arise if the pacemaker pocket has not been adequately sealed, resulting in pain, swelling, and infection.

By being vigilant about potential complications and seeking timely medical care, pacemaker patients can ensure the best possible outcomes following pacemaker implantation.

Long-Term Risks

Pacemaker use also carries some potential long-term risks. These may include lead dislodging, lead fracture, and lead insulation failure. Damage to the lead and technical failures can potentially result in device malfunction, which may cause the pacemaker to cease functioning or deliver inaccurate pacing signals.

Being aware of these long-term risks and working closely with your healthcare provider can help minimize the potential for complications. Regular check-ups and monitoring, as well as adhering to safety precautions and guidelines, are crucial in ensuring the ongoing proper functioning of your pacemaker and maintaining your overall health.

Pacemaker Replacement Procedure

Pacemaker Replacement Procedure

Over time, it may be necessary to replace your pacemaker’s battery or leads to ensure its continued proper functioning. The replacement procedure is typically conducted under local anesthesia with or without light sedation and is relatively straightforward.

By following your healthcare provider’s guidance and recommendations, you can ensure a smooth replacement process and optimal pacemaker performance.

Battery Replacement

Replacing a pacemaker battery involves making an incision over the previous scar from the initial implantation, extracting the old pacemaker generator, and substituting it with a new one. The surgery usually takes between 30-45 minutes and can be accomplished on an outpatient basis, allowing you to return home the same day.

Recovery time is generally between 1-2 days.

Lead Replacement

Lead Replacement

In some cases, pacemaker lead replacement may be required. This process, known as lead extraction, is a minimally invasive procedure for the removal of a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) leads from the heart. The procedure typically takes two to six hours and is conducted by a cardiologist and a dedicated team of nurses and technicians.

Factors that may necessitate lead replacement include:

  • Infection

  • Lead fracture

  • Lead insulation failure

  • Lead dislodgement

By closely monitoring your pacemaker’s performance and working with your healthcare provider, you can ensure that any necessary lead replacements are conducted promptly and effectively.


Throughout this blog post, we have explored the fascinating world of pacemakers, their lifespan, their impact on daily life, and the importance of maintenance and monitoring. We’ve also discussed potential complications, risks, and the replacement procedure. By understanding these aspects and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can live a fulfilling life with a pacemaker, embracing the freedom and peace of mind that these life-changing devices provide. Here’s to a heart-healthy future!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the life expectancy of a person with a pacemaker?

The life expectancy of a person with a pacemaker is not affected and the 1, 3, 5, and 10-year cumulative survival rates are 86%, 78%, 70%, and 60%, respectively.

What is the longest time a person has had a pacemaker?

Stephen Peech from the UK currently holds the record for the longest working pacemaker at 37 years 251 days, since it was implanted on 29th September 1983 at Killingbeck Hospital.

As of achieving the record, Stephen is 75 years old.

What are 4 things to be avoided if you have a pacemaker device?

To maintain the optimal functioning of your pacemaker device, it is important to avoid electromagnetic fields, defibrillators, certain medical tests, and any strong magnets.

Can you live an active life with a pacemaker?

With a pacemaker or ICD, you can generally lead a normal and active life. Advances in technology have reduced the chances of interference from machines, so you don’t need to worry about certain activities.

How long does a pacemaker battery typically last?

Pacemaker batteries typically last between eight and 10 years.

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