CARDIOVASCULAR
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HEART ARRHYTHMIA FAQS

If you have been diagnosed with arrhythmia, you probably have some questions about:

  • Life with an implanted device
  • Receiving treatment
  • What to be careful about after treatment

Look on this page for answers to questions you may have. If you do not find your question here, use our site’s search functions. Enter key words and phrases to find your answer on other pages of our Web site. 

You can also find answers to questions in our:

QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE WITH AN IMPLANTED DEVICE

Q: HOW OFTEN DO I HAVE TO SEE MY DOCTOR?

A: Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your cardiologist, even if you feel well. Your doctor may say that an annual appointment is enough, but be sure to call him or her any time you have questions or have any problems related to your procedure.

Q: IS IT SAFE TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY AFTER RECEIVING AN IMPLANTED CARDIAC DEVICE OR CARDIAC ABLATION?

A: Other than during your hospital stay and short recovery period after receiving arrhythmia treatment, your sex life should not be affected. However, be sure to follow your doctor’s advice about when to return to any kind of physical activity.

Read more about living with your treatment.

Q: WILL I BE ABLE TO DRIVE AFTER RECEIVING AN IMPLANTED CARDIAC DEVICE OR CARDIAC ABLATION?

A: Other than right after your hospital stay, you should be able to drive after receiving arrhythmia treatment. But talk with your doctor before you start driving again. In some countries, there are legal restrictions on driving after a procedure, so check with your local authorities.

Read more about living with your treatment.

Q: IF I HAVE A PACEMAKER OR ICD, IS IT SAFE TO USE A CELL PHONE?

A: Cellular phones send electromagnetic signals, so they can interfere with your device’s function if you do not take precautions. To minimize risk of problems, keep your cellular phone away from the immediate area of your implant, and hold it to the ear farthest from the implant when making your calls.

Q:WILL AN IPOD MUSIC PLAYER OR OTHER PORTABLE MULTIMEDIA CAUSE PROBLEMS WITH MY PACEMAKER

A: There is no indication that compact multimedia players, such as iPod products or mp3 players, interfere with Abbott pacemakers. Some limited data suggests that during device evaluation in the hospital or in a clinic, these players can disrupt communication between the pacemaker and the programmer wand within approximately 12 inches of either device. Again, this interference is only observed when the multimedia player is within 12 inches of the implanted pacemaker and the programmer’s telemetry wand.

Although there is no evidence that carrying a multimedia player device affects a pacemaker’s ability to provide therapy, be sure to carry your player on the opposite side of your body from your implant.

Q: WILL AIRPORT, COURTROOM OR OTHER SECURITY EQUIPMENT INTERFERE WITH MY PACEMAKER OR ICD?

A: The amount of metal used in Abbott implanted medical devices is very small. It is usually not enough to set off metal detectors; however, if it does, simply show security personnel your patient identification (ID) card. If they use a handheld wand, ask them to pass quickly over your device. Metal detectors will not hurt your device. However, be sure to move through the detector at a normal speed and do not stay close to it for very long.

Q: WHAT IF I HAVE A PACEMAKER OR ICD AND NEED CARE WHEN I AM TRAVELING?

A: If you need care when you are traveling, you can use the Abbott traveling patient clinic locator to search for clinics in Europe, Africa, Canada and the Middle East that offer implantable cardiac device support for our pacemakers and defibrillators. Clinics in additional countries will be added in the future. We recommend that you bookmark this page on your smartphone before you leave to make locating help easier, should you require medical assistance while away from home.

Read more about traveling with your device.

Q: I HAVE A MERLIN@HOME™ TRANSMITTER. IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL I NEED TO DO WHEN TRAVELING?

A: Be sure to ask your doctor to contact Abbott support service to find out if your Merlin@home transmitter will work in the country in which you are traveling.

Read more about traveling with your device.

Q: I HAVE A PATIENT NOTIFIER TO ALERT ME OF CHANGES IN MY DEVICE’S FUNCTION. DO I STILL NEED TO KEEP MY FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENTS?

A: Yes. The patient notifier feature helps to assess the mechanical function of the pacemaker and, to some degree, the device’s interaction with your heart. It is an extra feature that lets you and your doctor know whether your device needs attention between your regularly scheduled appointments. It is important to go to your appointments to periodically assess your device’s function, to make sure it is working correctly, and, at times, to adjust the settings to achieve the desired results. Likewise, your doctor needs to make sure that no problems are developing that are otherwise undetectable, but that may impact the effectiveness of pacing therapy.

Q: WHAT MEDICAL PROCEDURES CAN I SAFELY RECEIVE WITH A PACEMAKER OR ICD?

A: These procedures carry no known risk to implantable devices:

  • Acupuncture with no electrical stimulus
  • Bone density scan
  • CT scan
  • Dental drilling and ultrasonic scalers
  • Diagnostic X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram
  • External counter pulsation
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Mammography (Position Emission Tomography (PET))
  • Ultrasound, diagnostic

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