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FAQs: preparing for your pacemaker implantation

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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How can I decide where to be treated?

How long will I have to wait?

What will happen before the procedure?

How can I prepare for the procedure?

Should I keep taking my normal medication?

Can I eat or drink before the procedure?

What should I wear to hospital?

How can I decide where to be treated?

Under the Patient Choice initiative, you should be offered a choice of at least four hospitals. Your GP can advise you which hospitals and cardiologists (heart specialists) in your area do pacemaker implantation.

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How long will I have to wait?

The procedure is usually carried out quite soon after it is decided that you would benefit from a pacemaker. Some people need this done as an emergency.

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What will happen before the procedure?

Many hospitals have a pre-operative assessment clinic (or pre-admission clinic) where you will be seen by the team who will be looking after you and checked to make sure you are fit for surgery. You will also be told details about the procedure and will have the opportunity to ask any questions.

Tests, such as blood tests and X-rays, can be arranged at this stage so that there will be no delays when you are called into hospital. You will be asked about your general health, your heart problems and how these affect you, any additional medical problems and any previous operations you have had. You will also be asked about any problems or reactions you or your family have had with anaesthetics.  

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How can I prepare for the procedure?

Take a list (or packets) of any medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies and supplements. Certain drugs, particularly anticoagulants used to prevent clotting (such as aspirin, clopidogrel and warfarin), may need to be stopped before your admission to hospital. You will be told about this.

Tell the team about any reactions to medications, foods or materials such as latex. Tell the team if you have any loose teeth, caps, crowns or bridgework.

Getting as fit as you can before having your pacemaker fitted will help your recovery. Your cardiologist can advise you on the precise steps you need to take. Advice may include:

  • Quit smoking. Now is a good time to quit as smoking increases your risk of infection after any operation and can delay healing. It also increases your risk of blood clots.
  • Watch your weight. If you are overweight, the surgeon may advise you to slim down. Your GP or a dietitian can advise on healthy eating.
  • Moderate alcohol. Too much alcohol can affect the function of your heart. Cutting down before you come into hospital will improve your overall health.
  • Stay active. Staying as active as your condition allows can help you make a better recovery.
  • Think positively. A positive mental outlook can help you deal with the stress of surgery and aid your recovery.

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Should I keep taking my normal medication?

If you are taking medication for your heart condition or other medical problems, talk to your doctor about which medications you should stop taking and when. Necessary medications can usually be taken with a sip of water right up to the time of surgery. Do not stop any of your medications without medical advice.

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Can I eat or drink before the procedure?

You should be able to eat a normal meal the evening before your procedure. However, avoid eating, drinking or chewing (including gum) for six to eight hours before your procedure. Water is usually allowed for up to two hours before the operation.

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What should I wear to hospital?

Wear comfortable clothes that will not press on your wound when you come out of hospital. You will change into a hospital gown for the procedure. Leave jewellery, watches and valuables at home.

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Medical Review: January 11, 2010

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