Regular check ups are vital once you have had a dual or single chamber pacemaker fitted to regulate the beating of your heart. Your doctor will advise you on how often you should have your pacemaker checked. In most cases, you will need a check up every six to 12 months, although you might need to see a doctor more frequently, particularly if you begin to experience any symptoms.
When you attend the Cardiac Screen clinic in London for a pacemaker check, your doctor will use a special magnetic reader to check up on your pacemaker while using an ECG monitor to see how the pacemaker is affecting your heart. You won't feel anything while this is happening, but you might need to answer a few questions about your health to help your doctor judge the effect your pacemaker has been having. The check up will usually take between 30 and 40 minutes, although it may be longer if you have a particularly complicated pacemaker.
During the check up, your doctor will be able to measure the size and rate of the impulses being sent out by your pacemaker, and to evaluate the effect that these impulses are having on your heart. Any information stored by your pacemaker will also be collected and analysed. This might include details about the pacemaker's performance since the last check, as well as information about the remaining battery life.
If your doctor spots signs that your pacemaker isn't doing its job properly, the problem can often be solved by reprogramming your pacemaker. The settings can easily be adjusted using the same tool that reads the information from your pacemaker. The size or strength of the signals being sent out might need to be adapted to ensure that they are right for your heart.
Sometimes your doctor will need to do more than just adjust the settings of your pacemaker. In some cases, it might be necessary to fit a replacement part, which will require a procedure very like the one to fit your pacemaker. Although modern pacemaker batteries can last for ten years or more, they will eventually need to be replaced. The power levels will be assessed at every check up to determine whether a replacement is needed. The leads that connect the pacemaker to your heart also need to be checked, as they can sometimes require replacements to ensure the pacemaker signal keeps reaching your heart.