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How Long do Pacemaker Batteries Last?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Pacemaker battery life can range between five and 15 years, depending on a number of different factors. Generally, the battery is evaluated during a pacemaker check in a doctor's office to get an estimate on how much longer it will function. If it is running low, a replacement will be recommended to ensure that the patient is never without a pacemaker. During replacement, the entire pacemaker unit is replaced, not just the battery, in a procedure similar to that used when the device was originally installed.

One determining factor for the lifespan of pacemaker batteries is the type of device being used. Different manufacturers produce devices with varying ranges of battery life. Modern pacemakers tend to use more energy because the battery does not just deliver shocks to the heart, but also regulates the pacemaker, logs data on heart rhythm, and performs other functions. When a pacemaker is implanted, people will be provided with an estimate on the range of battery life so they have an idea of what to expect from their pacemakers.

Another issue involves how much the device is used. If a patient's pacemaker kicks in only rarely, the batteries may last a very long time. Pacemaker batteries run down fast when the device needs to be activated regularly to keep the heart rhythm going. This is one reason why doctors cannot predict device life at the outset, as every patient's batteries will run down at a slightly different rate.

It is also possible, although rare, for a patient to receive an original implant with defective batteries. Pacemaker batteries are tested before the device is installed, but sometimes testing doesn't reveal an underlying problem and they lose their charge quickly. Likewise, defective equipment can run down the pacemaker batteries rapidly. Extensive testing before surgery is designed to prevent this situation, but it can happen, and it's one reason patients must visit the doctor several times in the weeks immediately after installation to make sure the device is working properly.

When pacemaker batteries run low and need replacing, doctors opt to replace the whole device to provide patients with access to the latest pacemaker model. The leads will also be tested to see if they need to be replaced or if they can be left as they are. Risks of the replacement are similar to those of the original surgery, including infection, bruising at the pacemaker site, and adverse reactions to anesthetics used during the procedure.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon989223 — On Feb 25, 2015

Has anyone ever heard of someone who can feel the pacemaker pace? This person had chest pain when just the leads were being put in and the doctor had to try several places before he could find a place to put the leads that did not cause the patient chest pain. This patient had to go to the ER five times after the doctor would set the PM with severe chest pain but when the tech would get there and reset PM the pain would stop. This person paces 91 percent and feels it every time she paces.

By ysmina — On Aug 05, 2013

@MikeMason-- My pacemaker batter is at the end of its life and I got it just four years ago! My doctor said that he has a patient who had to get a replacement battery after just three years! So it really depends on individual needs.

I personally think three years is too short. Replacement surgery is not difficult, but there is a risk of infection and I certainly wouldn't want to be taking that risk every three years.

By burcidi — On Aug 05, 2013

@MikeMason-- It hasn't happened to me, but it's definitely a possibility. The battery could be faulty or it might get used up very quickly because the person's heart requires the pacemaker to work very hard.

My first pacemaker lasted seven years which is normal. I think the average number of years one lasts is about eight or nine. It's been eight years since I got my second one and it looks like this one is going to last me a few more years.

By stoneMason — On Aug 04, 2013

Has anyone's pacemaker battery died much sooner than it was supposed to? And when it happened, could you tell even before getting a check-up?

By indigomoth — On Aug 04, 2013

@croydon - It's a nice joke, but I'm not sure you'd actually be able to get a new pacemaker if civilization as we know it ends. Pacemakers are really incredible devices and something that we take for granted too much.

A few decades ago, a person who had that kind of heart defect would just die. Now they can live out the natural term of their lives. It's a miracle, really.

By croydon — On Aug 03, 2013

@Fa5t3r - From what I've heard, most people who are awake through surgery tend to have fairly hazy memories of it and will often doze through it anyway. It might be that your mother found it difficult to do this because she was so on edge from the pain, so hopefully if they do it properly the next time, it won't be so bad for her.

My father has a pacemaker and he and I often joke about what he'll have to do if there was an apocalypse or something and no doctors around to change the battery.

I told him that I would study pacemaker surgery if it came to that and just perform it myself. At least I'd probably have a few years to learn the basics!

Not that I would ever do that unless there was no other possible way to get the surgery done.

By Fa5t3r — On Aug 02, 2013

My mother is living in fear of the day when her pacemaker is going to need replacing. She had to have a cardiac pacemaker put in a few years ago and she hated the process. They left her awake so that they could monitor her throughout the surgery, and they didn't numb her deeply enough. When it was time to thread a wire down her vein she jumped and screamed because it hurt a lot. After that, they numbed her, but she said it was horribly claustrophobic and just generally a bad experience.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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