Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is a pacemaker implant safe?"
What can go wrong? My mothe ris getting one after a recent cardiac event (she's 76) and I'm trying to understand how this will effect her life.
A pacemaker implantation is a regular procedure that is done quite regularly in hospitals across the world. That being said, there are certain risks of the procedure. I would recommend that you discuss this with your mother's heart doctor (cardiologist) or the heart doctor that specializes in heart rhythm (cardiac electrophysiologist). As with any procedure, their are risks and benefits. The benefits must outweigh the risks in order to make sense. In general, for implanting a pacemaker (if deemed necessary) the benefits are great. A low or slow heart rate can be potentially fatal and so the benefit is real. As for the risks, there are a few even though the procedure often is uncomplicated. Firstly, any time there is a cut -- the risk for bleeding and the risk for infection is there. The risk of infection continues throughout the life of the pacemaker as the leads can get infected. In addition, there are some rare complications such as puncturing the heart or the blood vessels. Occasionally, there is fluid that can build up around the heart and cause significant problems. There are also mechanical complications that can occur -- their is often some pain at the site for at least a few weeks. In addition, long term there is the cosmetic effect of seeing the box in the chest. Talk to your doctor for more information. This is normally a very safe procedure.
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