Will I Have to Replace My Pacemaker?

Pacemaker implanted in the chest will last about 10 to 15 years according to Electrophysiologist Dr. Andrea Tordini

For those with a slow heart rhythm or bradycardia, a pacemaker may be exactly what’s needed to restore a more normal life and lifestyle. Pacemakers allow the heart to function more normally to reduce the risks associated with cardiac arrhythmias. Before delving into whether a pacemaker will eventually need to be replaced, we must understand exactly what it is. Traditional pacemakers use leads in the heart to deliver an electrical signal to start a heartbeat. The signal is generated from a battery or pulse generator, usually implanted under the skin. New, leadless pacemakers including the Micra device are implanted into the heart itself and represent a smaller, less invasive option. In all cases, the pacemaker uses the battery pack to detect an irregular heartbeat and correct it with electrical impulses.

Of course, batteries do not last forever, and this is no different for pacemakers. Both traditional and leadless pacemakers can be expected to last between 7 and 12 years. The biggest determinant of how long the pacemaker will last revolves around how often it needs to be used. Pacemakers that offer more pacing, will deteriorate more quickly. A pacemaker’s exposure to environmental factors, including interference, may also affect the battery.

With that said, the process of replacing a pacemaker is relatively straightforward. Traditional pacemaker pulse generators are implanted directly under the skin and by cutting open the flap of skin above the pacemaker, we can simply remove the old pulse generator and replace it with a new one. The replacement of a leadless pacemaker implanted in a ventricle is somewhat more complex and less predictable. Dr. Tordini, therefore, may discuss the option of deactivating the spent pacemaker and implanting a second leadless pacemaker within the same chamber of the heart. These leadless pacemakers are so small, that it will not affect the heart’s function.

So, as you can see, pacemakers not only represent a very important part of proper heart rhythm and pacing, but they can also be replaced with relative ease when their battery runs out. The device will automatically signal to us that when its batteries are running low, and we can discuss the procedure for replacing the pulse generator at your next consultation.

For any questions about pacemakers, we encourage you to contact our office to learn more. If you are experiencing the signs of bradycardia, or a slow heartbeat, we encourage you to visit Dr. Tordini who can work with you to decide if pacemaker is the best option for your condition.

Dr. Tordini is a part of Florida Medical Clinic in Tampa

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