Stanford Cardiac Arrhythmia Service

After you leave the hospital

You must remember several things in caring for yourself after you leave the hospital following pacemaker implantation. Sometimes, we prescribe antibiotics which you’ll need to take for several days. Check your temperature twice throughout the day to see if it is elevated, which may possibly indicate an infection.

Change the dressing over the pacemaker daily, but do not take off the steri-strips that are on the incision. Inspect the incision for redness, swelling or drainage and replace the dressing with a clean, dry bandage. Do not cleanse or rub the incision with anything. If you develop redness, swelling, drainage, increased wound tenderness or an elevated temperature, please notify us immediately (650-723-7111) as these are potential signs of an infection.

After the third day, you may shower and allow the incision to get wet, but do not scrub the area, and keep the force of the water from spraying directly on the incision. The steri-strips will start to loosen and usually come off seven to 10 days after surgery.

Do not lift or move the arm on the side of the pacemaker above your head for two weeks after implantation. You’ll have a follow-up appointment with your physician within seven to 10 days of surgery. Once you see your physician, he or she will assist you with guidelines for increasing your activity. It may take time to build up your strength, but you should increase your activity.

Day-to-day changes

Make sure you know the rate at which your doctor set your pacemaker. Your pulse may be faster than the preset rate, but it should never be slower than this rate. A nurse will help you practice taking your pulse before you leave the hospital.

You’ll receive a pacemaker identification card while you’re in the hospital, or in the mail after you go home. You should carry this ID at all times. Most electrical and mechanical devices won’t interfere with your pacemaker. In general, you may use any appliance or go anywhere except into areas where strong electrical interference may exist. Always tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you have a pacemaker.

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