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If you have a heart arrhythmia, your doctor may determine that a pacemaker is the best treatment option. As an interventional procedure, implanting a pacemaker device does not require surgery or an open incision.

St. Joseph's Heart & Vascular Institute is a leader in interventional care. Our cardiologists use the latest digital technology and minimally invasive tools.

How is a Pacemaker Implanted?

  • A pacemaker is a small electronic device that helps your heart's electrical system by keeping your heart beating at the right pace. Inserting the pacemaker into your body is called implantation.
  • You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the area where the pacemaker will be inserted. This keeps you from feeling pain during the procedure.
  • Your doctor makes an incision where the generator is placed.
  • Then your doctor guides the lead (transmits to and from your heart) through a vein into your heart's chambers using X-ray monitors.
  • The pacemaker generator is attached to the lead or leads.
  • Finally, your doctor programs your pacemaker settings to help your heart beat at a rate that's right for you.

After a Pacemaker Implantation

The procedure is done on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on your medical history. After the procedure, your pacemaker settings will be rechecked. Your physician will decide on the best post-operative care for you. Follow any instructions given to you, including:

  • On the incision side, don't raise your arm above your shoulder for at least a week. This gives the lead a chance to secure inside the vein in your heart.
  • Take your temperature and check your incision for signs of infection every day for a week.
  • Return for a follow-up visit as directed by our staff.

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • You feel any of the symptoms you had before the pacemaker was implanted (dizziness, lightheadedness, lack of energy or fainting spells).
  • Your chest muscles twitch.
  • You have a rapid or pounding heartbeat or shortness of breath.
  • You feel pain in the area around your pacemaker.
  • You have a fever over 101°F or other signs of infection (redness, swelling or warmth at the incision site).