A pacemaker is a device implanted in your chest or abdomen to help your heart maintain an adequate rhythm by delivering regular electrical pulses. A pacemaker has two basic parts.
  • The pulse generator sends out electrical signals.
  • Wires are threaded through the veins to deliver these signals to the heart.

Your doctor will talk to you about which type of pacemaker is best for treating your specific heart condition.

If you have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia, heart failure or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and your condition has not responded to medication, your doctor may discuss the possibility of a pacemaker.

Surgically Implanting a Pacemaker
Our medical team will implant your pacemaker through a surgical procedure.
  1. An area on your chest will be numbed with a local anesthetic.
  2. Your surgeon will make a two- to three-inch cut just below your collarbone to create a “pocket” for the pacemaker.
  3. Your surgeon will use an X-ray machine to guide the lead(s) into the heart and attach them with tines or small screws.
  4. Your surgeon will attach the leads to the pacemaker, place it into the “pocket” in your chest and test it to make sure it is working properly.
  5. The incision in your chest will be closed with stitches, staples or surgical glue.

Most patients stay in the hospital overnight after pacemaker surgery. Before you go home, your doctor will give you very specific instructions on what you should and should not do for the following four to six weeks.

Once you recover from surgery, you should be able to resume most of your normal activities, including sports or vigorous exercise. Routine visits once every three months are required to have your pacemaker checked; this will ensure proper operation of the implanted device and enable routine maintenance.

Pacemaker Precautions 
Your doctor will talk to you about avoiding prolonged use or contact with devices that can interfere with your pacemaker’s function, which include the following:
  • Cell phones and MP3 players
  • Some household appliances, such as microwave ovens
  • High-tension wires
  • Metal detectors (you will receive a pacemaker ID card that allows you to bypass detectors)

In the past, patients implanted with a pacemaker were not eligible to receive an MRI for other injuries. Doctors at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center are employing a specific protocol to reprogram pacemakers and defibrillators, now giving these patients the option to receive an MRI. These tests are only performed if the benefits outweigh the potential risks to the patient. 


Our physicians at Houston Methodist specialize in pacemaker implantation at the following convenient locations: