What's Life With A Pacemaker Really Like?

I tried to google this, but I find a wide, and I mean wide variety of opinions.

Some say you’re limited to exercise such as light house work and walking. Other sites say people with pacemakers can do bodybuilding and exercise.

I’ve read that too much movement can displace the wires so they recommend limited movement.

I read that analog cell phones don’t interfere with them, but some kind of digital cell phones may interfere.

As you can see be the above examples, the opinions expressed on the web are so varied, I thought I’d ask here.

What’s the real SD on pacemakers? Does anyone know anyone who has one and what is it like?

I put it here instead of GQ as I was looking for opinions of people who may actually have a pacemaker or know someone with it


Oh yeah to keep my record going, I got the idea for this question from not one but TWO TV series. The Golden Girls, where Blanche gets a pacemaker and Prisoner (Prisoner: Cell Block H), the great Australian soap opera where Judy gets a pacemaker.

I have a coworker with a pacemaker I see pretty frequently. I’ll ask him about some of this stuff next time he’s in.

My father has a subcutaneous pacemaker. The big thing I noticed is you can never have an MRI, on any part of your body. it will rip the pacemaker out of your chest. This was an issue when my dad hurt his knee. However I understand there is a new version which is MRI safe.

I have never heard of “limited movement” or not being able to do sports. Ok my dad is not super into athletics but he can work out, swim, etc, as much as likes (which, again, is not competition body building, just normal gym stuff)

ETA: old fashioned pacemakers were totally different. They were implanted in the heart and that was a huge deal.

Out of curiosity do you have to replace the batteries every so often? If anyone knows, how often? Is it like an outpatient thing or what?


Can’t answer most of your questions in detail, but I remember my sister saying when she got hers that she was on restricted movement while she healed from the initial installation.

Keep in mind, too, that there are other factors at work than just “has pacemaker”, like whether or not there is heart damage of some sort, various chronic illnesses aside from a heart problem, age, and so forth. So one person might well have much stronger restrictions than another.

Gerry did quite well with several of them.

Life with a pacemaker is pretty much indistinguishable from life without one. For a couple weeks, I had to avoid putting my left arm above the shoulder until the line to the heart settled in place. The pacemaker says it is safe for airport inspections, but the airport inspectors don’t believe me. They generally detect it because they have now set their metal detectors to high sensitivity (new in the past year or so) and so they put me through detailed inspection anyway (including wiping a kleenex over my hands and putting it in front of some detector (are they looking for drugs, or explosive?).

There is no limit on activities, except the ones imposed by age. I guess I should avoid poking it.

Battery life is supposedly 10 years. At that time it will have to be replaced (minor outpatient surgery with local anesthesia). If they have to replace the electrical wire to the heart it gets a bit more complicated, but I don’t know the details. I expect by then they will figure out how to have rechargeable batteries, using magnetic induction or some such. My resting pulse is now a fixed 60 beats/minute. It had dropped to about 35 before they implanted it and there was at least one 7 second interval during the night with no beat at all. Scary.

Thans Hari for your reply. So basically it hasn’t limited you in anyway that you weren’t limited before?

What about cell phones? As you saw I read that analogue cell phones are fine, but some sites say digital cellphone (which they all pretty much are today) may be problematic.

You should start a “Ask the person with a pacemaker thread” :slight_smile: