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"Do pacemakers pose any health risks?"

ZocdocAnswersDo pacemakers pose any health risks?


Do pacemakers pose any health risks? The doctor says my mother is the ideal candidate for a pacemaker, and of course I want to trust them ? but it just seems like that kind of procedure must have some drawbacks, and we want to be well informed before we move forward.


Before undergoing any procedure, you should always get informed about all the risks and benefits associated with it. In general, the drawbacks of pacemakers in patient's who need them are far less than the benefits. Let me explain. There are two types of devices that cardiologists will place for electrical problems with the heart. The first is a standard implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). This type of devise is given to patients who have had a cardiac arrest or are found to be at high risk for one. A pacemaker is typically an ICD with the additional feature of pacing the heart either at a pre-defined rate or the natural rate the heart wants to go. In the case of your mother, if she had a heart rhythm problem or if she has heart failure, then she will benefit from the device. Patients with heart failure that get a pacemaker for what we call re-synchronization therapy often report huge improvements in there quality of life and exercise tolerance. The risks of having the device start with the procedure itself which are quite minimal. There is a risk of bleeding, infection, and others that the cardiologist will go through before the procedure. After the device is in, there is a risk of infection around the pacer pocket. There is also a very small risk of the device malfunctioning and parts of it needing replaced. Make sure that the cardiologist who is placing the devise goes through in detail all of these risks and benefits. Good luck.

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