New pacemaker with old leads is draining battery fast

I had a Medtronic model ADDRL1 pacemaker installed with St. Jude 1688TC leads in 2012.

Late in 2022 I had the pacemaker replaced because of a low battery. They replaced it with a Medtronic model W1DR01 pacemaker, however they attached it to the old St. Jude leads. They did not want to risk removing the old leads.

I was told everything was great, except I could never have a MRI because of the old leads.

Recently, I moved to another state and saw a new pacemaker doctor. He immediately told me I only have 2 1/2 years battery life left on my new pacemaker.

The prior doctor had never told me that use of old leads would result in a shorter battery life. Has anyone else experienced a short battery life because of old leads? Not sure where I go from here.



Mine is draining fast too

by Lavender - 2023-10-13 21:28:27

I'm on my first pacemaker-CRT-P. My leads and all were put in two years eight months ago. One lead is draining my battery. My cardiologist said when I get to replacing it, I'll know it's time because my monitor will be checking the battery daily. Then my pacemaker will be replaced as well as any leads that test bad. 

I wish it would last longer but sometimes this happens. If you have a home monitor it's already checking your battery life. As you get to replacement time, you can get new leads.  It's not as big a deal as it used to be. 

Lead is draining battery fast

by Lefty - 2023-10-13 21:55:02

I assumed what I described was caused by my new pacemaker not being compatible with my old leads. Now I am wondering if one of my old leads has just gone bad. Before I replaced my prior pacemaker, I was told that I had 2 1/2 years battery life left. Then I suddenly received a call saying I had to have the pacemaker replaced immediately because the battery was very low. Maybe the same thing will happen with my new pacemaker. I will double-check my home monitor.

Thank you for your comment. I hope all goes well for you!

Thx Lefty!

by Lavender - 2023-10-14 07:28:00

Unfortunately we have to use our pacemakers as long as they're still functioning ok. Just draining the battery won't harm us. Insurance dictates when they'll pay for a new one. 

Sounds like you found a good pacemaker doc to keep an eye on you!


by Tracey_E - 2023-10-15 14:20:44

It's not the old leads being connected to a new device that is causing the drain. It's very common to reuse the leads as long as they are in good shape. It sounds like perhaps yours are no longer in ideal condition.  Given that battery life, you'll want to deal with the leads when you get the new battery. You have some times to plan and research and learn about it. 

If there is room, they can cap off the old leads and place new ones. They can do a venogram to see if there is room, iv with dye done in the cath lab.

This is not the preferred way to do it now. I did this in 2010. One lead was still working but the other drained my battery in just over 2 years. At that time, extraction was still high risk so I chose not to do it, to hope the new lead worked until extraction technology got better.  

Is there something in particular that makes you higher risk to extract? If you are going to consider extraction, you'll want to be evaluated by someone who does a lot of them. You dont want just anyone doing this. It's not the high risk surgery it used to be. The lasers they use have come a long way. The number of experienced surgeons has grown. There are even some who specialize in high risk. They can do tests to see about your lead placement, scar tissue, condition of the veins. After that, you can make an educated decision about where to go next.

I will be making this decision in the next year or so. My ep has a high risk surgeon that he works with so I will be meeting with him. We are also watching advances in the leadless dual chamber. It is just now being used in patients with old leads that cannot be extracted. I'm hoping that's an option for me. I still may choose to extract, just to get the old hardware out before it causes problems.

Another option is moving everthing to the other side. 

If the circumstances warrant, there are hospitals that will do an mri on very old leads. I just learned this recently! There is a chance the heat will permanently alter our pacing thresholds, but it can safely be done if necessary. This is a reason why I am leaning towards extraction whether I end up with a leadless or a new set of mri conditional leads. I'd like to have that option. 


by Lefty - 2023-10-15 14:37:02

Lots of good information. Thank you very much! I hope all goes well for you.

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