Pacemaker Replacement

Hi, I'm new. I am 31 yrs old and had 2 open heart surgeries due to congenital heart defects. One at 9 mos and other at 9 yrs old. I have been pacemaker dependent since I was a year old. I have had my current pacer for 18 years. Went to Dr.s last week and its time is apparently up. I am to go in next month for a pacer replacement. I am very unhappy though about the life span of the new pacers. Do I have a choice over what kind I can get? My current is a Guidant. I am not reading nice things about them. Anyone else annoyed that the focus seems to be on all the bells and whistles of the pacemakers as opposed to the battery life? My dinosaur was very simple and it has served me well these past 18 years. I don't want to be in every five years or so! Also, will I really be awake for this surgery?, will I feel any pain, how long out of work, how long before I can drive, swim, shower. Will I have a lot more energy and more exercise tolerance? How long is the scar? My current is 3 inches. As you can see I have a lot of questions and have not even heard back from the Dr. since last weeks apt. as to when the surgery will be.....


The right place

by auntiesamm - 2007-07-11 06:07:27

Hello and Welcome - You are in the right place to get the answers to most of your questions. I have had my Guidant PM for just over a year and it is on the current recall/warning list. It was after I had the PM implanted that I learned about the problems. You have every right to ask the EP or cardiologist which brands are available at the hospital you will be in and to refuse a Guidant or any other pacemaker you have found to be lacking. There are lots of sweetheart deals out there with the PM companies, the hospitals and the docs. By doing your research you will know which is best for you. I am impressed with your 18 years on a Guidant PM. Your question is very provocative: Why is the life span of the newer pacers so much shorter than the older models?

You will find lots of great new friends and support on this website. Good luck and God bless you.

New Pacemaker

by SMITTY - 2007-07-11 07:07:38

Hello KMV,


I have to say your pacemaker is the oldest that is still in operation I’ve heard about.

You ask do you have a choice on the brand of your new pacemaker. Of course there are several brands from which a doctor can choose, but IF IT WERE ME IN YOUR PLACE, I would simply ask my doctor which he would prefer that I have. All pacemakers do pretty much the same job, but they may do it ever so slightly differently. I do know all brands have had their ups and downs, So figuring that they are all about equal, I would want the one that my doctor was the most familiar with as I will have to rely on him and his staff for routine checkups.

So far as I know Guidant got the most publicity for being bad because management of that company tried to cover up the fact they were putting out defective pacemakers. While I have a Medtronic PM, I don’t know that I can say mine is any better than a Guidant, but I will say I feel safer with it. I’m sure if I had a St. Jude unit I’d probably feel the same way. In your case, you’ve got an eighteen year old Guidant. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can fault that one.

As for life span of a new PM, I would guess that it will have a life span at least equal to you Guidant; provided it got used no more often your Guidant has apparently been used. I know the batteries made today are better than they were 18 years ago. My guess is that your pacemaker has more or less been along for the ride and has actually done little more than monitor your heart’s function. As a monitor they use very little power. It is when they have to assist with a heart beat frequently by sending out an electrical impulse to make it beat, that they consume the battery. Hopefully your next one will only monitor what is going on and you can get a new one about the time you retire.

As for the surgery for a new one, again, that depends on the doctor. I’m sure you will be anesthetized for the surgery and of course the pain during surgery will be nil. Afterward, well I can only tell my experience from getting my PM 7 years ago. I went home the next day with no pain and with instructions to not use my arm much for a few days. That did not mean I had to keep it immobile. I used it for simple things like shaving, tying shoes, putting on my clothes. I really did whatever I wanted too so long as it did not involve putting strain on the arm. This went on for about 2 weeks and when the incision site was no longer sore, I pretty well forgot the after effects of the surgery. I did have a considerable amount of trouble with the PM later but it was in no way related to the surgery. As for scar length, mine is a scant 2 inches, and I understand 2 to 3 inches is about the norm. As for the swimming, shower, etc. that info should come from your doctor.

As for the increased energy question, I’ll go out on a limb here and say no. I say that because if your current PM was helping maintain a heart rate, I think its battery would have played out several years ago. However, if you have been living with, shall we say, a dormant PM when you actually needed one helping, then the new one could give you a considerable boost in energy. While I didn’t get a boost in energy I did feel much more alive, especially when I woke up each morning. Also, I didn’t tire as quickly, but I was 71 at the time, so at 31 you could be in for a pleasant surprise.

When I read you have had a PM for 18 years, my first thought was he has a lot more experience with one than I have so I doubt that I can help. But you apparently have a PM that did its job and you really never had any questions about it. To possibly help you a little more, I’m going to send you an article by private message that give lots of details on getting and benefiting from a PM. I’m sending by private message only because it is so long.

Wish you the best and please keep us updated.


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