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A pacemaker is a device inserted under the skin near the heart to help regulate the heartbeat. People with an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia due to a heart attack or other health condition may need a pacemaker. As the devices are electronic and run on a battery, there are some basic pacemaker precautions that should be taken. Certain activities may need to be avoided for a period of time after the pacemaker surgery, and the device should be checked regularly to make sure it is working properly and has adequate battery life. Other precautions include avoiding MRIs and certain other types of machinery, as well as notifying airport security before going through a metal detector.
After surgery, some initial precautions should be observed. A medical professional may restrict patients from exercising or lifting heavy objects for about a month after the procedure. A follow-up visit to the surgeon may also be scheduled to make sure the device is working properly. This visit may be followed by regular checks that can be done over the telephone. This involves attaching a transmitting device to the body and the phone, which allows pacemaker information to be sent to a technician who evaluates function, battery life, and other factors.
In addition to regular check ups, other pacemaker precautions may need to be taken. As pacemakers are sensitive to magnets, many people who have the devices cannot have certain medical procedures, such as an MRI or some types of radiation for cancer treatment. Sometimes, a person's pacemaker will need to be turned off during surgery, but this should only be done by trained medical personnel. In other cases, antibiotics may be given before surgery to minimize the risk of infection.
It is usually okay to go through airport security with a pacemaker, but security should be notified in advance because the devices can set off the metal detector. Also, the wands used for metal detection during a more thorough check should not be passed directly over the area of the pacemaker, as this can disrupt its function. Individuals who have a pacemaker should a medical alert bracelet at all times.
While most daily activities are safe and don't require any pacemaker precautions, some things may need to be avoided. People with pacemakers can use cell phones, but holding one directly over the device may interfere with its pacing. Any high-voltage machinery may also cause similar problems.