A pacemaker is a small battery-powered medical device that sends electrical impulses to control or help a person’s heart to beat at a normal rate.

Why would I need a pacemaker?

People usually need a pacemaker when their heartbeat is too slow. Your doctor may recommend that you get a pacemaker if:

  • You have a problem with your heart rhythm that could be helped by a pacemaker.
  • You have trouble doing everyday activities, or you can't do them at all.
  • You have health problems that increase your chances of having heartbeat problems.

What is a pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a device inserted into your upper chest. It is usually placed just below the skin near your collarbone. Pacemakers weigh about 135 grams or less than 5 ounces. Another way to describe a pacemaker is they are about the size and weight of an old fashioned pocket watch.

The pacemaker has two parts:

  • The battery or generator
  • The pacing wires, called leads

The generator monitors your heart beat and rhythm. When needed, it sends an impulse to your heart, triggering a heart beat. The leads go from the pacemaker to the inside of your heart. They are attached to the heart muscle. A pacemaker can have one or two leads.

How long does a pacemaker last?

The battery life of a pacemaker depends on the type of pacemaker. Usually, the battery lasts between six to 15 years. It will depend on how the pacemaker is set and how often you use it. The leads can last many years and may never need to be replaced. Most people have their battery checked every six to 12 months at a Pacemaker Clinic or their heart specialist’s office.

How can I prepare for my permanent pacemaker implant?

Follow these preparation steps to prepare for your pacemaker procedure. Contact your doctor or the implantable cardiac electrical devices coordinator at 1-855-529-7223 if you have any questions prior to your procedure.

What is done during a permanent pacemaker implant?

In Fraser Health, your procedure could be done either at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre or Royal Columbian Hospital depending on the type of procedure requested.

Learn more on our implantable cardiac electrical devices page.


The following resources have information about the permanent pacemaker:

Fraser Health Patient Education

More information on pacemakers


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