Longevity of leads


I'm on my 3rd pacemaker.  My leads are approx.  23+ years old.  I can't seem to find much data as how long they can actually last or how worried I should be about it.  For information, I am 47 - so hopefully, I won't need to get them changed many times.   Any one have any ideas where I should search? 

Many thanks - Heather 


old leads

by Tracey_E - 2023-03-04 13:48:01

There really is no data, at least not that I'm aware of. Average lead life is 15 years, but we have members with leads as old as 40 years. You can ask about the condition of your leads and if it is stable when you have a check up. If you have one that old, I guarantee they are keeping a close eye on it, whether they say anything to you or not.

I have one that's from 1994 so that's always my first question, how's it doing?? I've got 1-2 years left on this battery and we've discussed changing them out next time even though it's working. The new ones are smaller and can be placed better, and we don't have a crystal ball to know how long this one will last, but it's working well and stable. The last discussion I had with my doctor, he said if the battery died tomorrow, he would not recommend messing with the lead. We will have the discussion again when it's time to replace the battery, because that's the ideal time to do the new lead.  

I don't consider it something to worry about. Leads don't last forever but mine is chugging along and doing well at almost twice the average lead life. When it goes, they'll extract and I'll get new ones, not a big deal. I'm a bit older than you at 56. The longer this set of leads lasts, the higher the probability my next set will be my last, so I'm not in any hurry to do it but I don't fear it either. 

Lead removal

by Amyelynn - 2023-03-04 23:19:28

I highly recommend talking about lead removal when the leads are no longer functional. As you are younger and will need new leads in your future...

my abandenoded leads that's have been in for 25 years now seem to be causing me problems. 😑 

Old Leads

by heatherine008 - 2023-03-05 00:19:17

@ Tracey_E - thank you so much for replying to me.  That's great to hear.   I agree, I want these leads to last as long as possible - I saw my cardiologist the other day and he kind of scared me by saying we need to start monitoring me more regularly due to the age of my leads!  I had a new pacemaker put in last year and at that time, he didn't want to mess with the leads when they were still working.. I just need to prepare myself for the eventuality and the bill!  

@ Amyelynn - totally agree I am in no rush to have them removed at all - just the only data I could find was as Tracey E said, the average life span of the leads is 15 years, I guess I'm hoping to hear lots more stories where leads have lasted much longer!  When you say abandoned leads - do you mean when they put in an extra set of leads but left the old ones in? What kind of issues? I guess that's something I've also got to consider.... 

abandoned leads

by Tracey_E - 2023-03-05 10:46:49

I have one abandoned lead. One of my original leads went bad in 2010. I had room in the vein so rather than extracting and starting over, they capped off the bad one and added a new one. Extraction technology has come a long way so this is no longer the preferred way to do it. Now they take it all out. 

If you got a new one last year, then your leads are in good shape and stable. If they were not, they would have brought it up when you had your replacement. Monitoring it is the responsible thing to do, but it doesn't imply they are worried about it. 


by barnet38 - 2023-03-05 22:19:00

I'm 41 and have had a pacemaker since 1998 due to congenital complete heart block.  My original atrial lead is 25 years old and still working well.  My original ventricular lead started acting up in 2018.  I knew there was a problem because I was regularly becoming dizzy upon standing, and couldn't raise my heart rate even with exercise.  I sent a transmission through my monitor and the device technician noticed significant impedance levels in my lead.  The original lead was extracted when the new lead was placed.

My pacemaker automatically sends reports to the device clinic every 3 months.  Like Tracey said, that doesn't mean that something is wrong... it's just the responsible  thing to do.


by dwelch - 2023-03-06 22:42:50

I have two 35 year old leads one I use the other is capped (broke during first replacement).  On device number five.  So using a 35 year old a 28 year old and one is a handful of years old.

Wont mess with them until I need to mess with them and we were worried about room for four I doubt I have room for five so at that time will have to take a couple out.   Some day maybe.


by piglet22 - 2023-03-28 07:43:38

I guess the old saying of if it ain't broke, don't fix it applies.

How many times have I not listened to that adivce.

You know you're wired when...

Jerry & The Pacemakers is your favorite band.

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