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Leadless Pacemaker Placement: What to Expect at Home

Catheter moves through blood vessel from groin to heart's right ventricle, with detail of right ventricle

Your Recovery

A leadless pacemaker is a small, battery-powered device. It sends mild, painless electrical signals to your heart. This keeps it beating normally. The pacemaker is called leadless because no wires connect it to the heart. It's placed inside the heart. The pacemaker can help stop symptoms caused by a slow heart rate.

Your groin may have a bruise and feel sore for a day or two. You can do light activities around the house. But don't do anything strenuous for several days.

You'll need to take steps to safely use electric devices. Some of these devices can stop your pacemaker from working right for a short time. Check with your doctor about what to avoid and what to keep a short distance away from your pacemaker. For example, you will need to stay away from things with strong magnetic and electrical fields. An example is an electronic body fat scale. You can use a cell phone and other wireless devices but keep them at least 15 centimetres away from your chest. Many household and office electronics do not affect a pacemaker. These include kitchen appliances and computers.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • If the doctor gave you a sedative:
    • For 24 hours, don't do anything that requires attention to detail, such as going to work, making important decisions, or signing any legal documents. It takes time for the medicine's effects to completely wear off.
    • For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous. Wait until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for a day or two. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking.
  • Try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days.

Diet

  • If you had dye injected, drink plenty of fluids to help your body flush out the dye. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking this medicine again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

Care of the catheter site

  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry.
  • Do not soak the catheter site until it is healed. Don't take a bath for 1 week, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • A small amount of bleeding is normal.
  • If you are bleeding, lie down and press on the area for 15 minutes to try to make it stop. If the bleeding does not stop, call your doctor or seek immediate medical care.

Other instructions

  • Keep a medical ID card with you at all times that says you have a pacemaker. The card should include the manufacturer and model information.
  • Wear medical alert jewellery stating that you have a pacemaker. You can buy this at most drugstores.
  • Check your pulse as directed by your doctor.
  • Have your pacemaker checked as often as your doctor recommends. In some cases, this may be done over the phone or online. Your doctor will give you instructions about how to do this.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • Your leg looks blue or feels cold, numb, or tingly.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have problems.

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.