ZocdocAnswersWhat is a pacemaker and how long does its battery last?

Question

What is a pacemaker and how long does its battery last?

My grandmother recently had surgery and got a pacemaker put in. What is a pacemaker? How does it work? I go often to spend time with her. I am worried that her pacemaker will run out of battery and I will not know what to do. How can I be prepared to help her in case there are any problems with her pacemaker?

Answer

The best type of doctor for your grandmother to see about this is her electrophysiologist. This is the type of cardiologist that deals specifically with pacemakers. A pacemaker battery life largely depends on how it's used. For the most part, if the battery is just being used for pacing when the heart needs it (i.e. a backup pacemaker), then the battery may last 10 years or more. If your grandmother's heart's nature pacemaker is no longer functioning and the pacemaker is always pacing the heart, then it might last a bit less time. Some pacemakers also act as defibrillators. That is that will shock the heart back into rhythm if it ever goes into a deadly rhythm. If this feature gets used a lot, it can drain the battery. Please speak with an electrophysiologist. They will monitor the battery life and make sure that there is enough juice. When it gets closer to the end, they will replace it long before it runs out. It will also start to beep (you will hear it through the skin) if the battery is about to go out. If any problems arise with her pacemaker specifically if she suddenly feels lightheaded or if the pacemaker shocks her, then you should call 911 right away.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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