Stay healthy

    Learn more about your cardiac device

    Heart devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, are a reliable and effective treatment for many heart rhythm issues. While complications are uncommon, they can occur and range from a lead malfunction to an infection.1,2 Empower yourself by learning what signs and symptoms to look out for and discover life-saving resources to help you become an active part in the shared decision-making process with your doctor.

    Cardiac device animation

    What is a cardiac device?

    Sometimes the heart needs a little help to beat with a regular rhythm. Irregular heartbeats can be controlled and monitored with a cardiac device.

    How does a cardiac device give support?

    Tiny electrical wires, called leads, connect your heart to the device. They allow the device to sense the rhythm of the heart and detect when the heart beats too fast or too slow. In return, the device paces the heart by sending electrical signals via the leads.

    It’s important your device is maintained and managed properly as there is a connection between your device and your ongoing health. Here are some quick tips for living with your heart device.

    People implant icon

    Is the implant site becoming painful, warmer, red, swollen, thin or papery?

    Thermometer icon

    Do you feel generally unwell or feverish?

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    Did you recently have repeated antibiotics or infections?

    If the answer to at least one of these questions is ‘Yes’, your cardiac device may be infected.*
    But don’t worry: most infection can be treated!

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    Visit your device doctor or device clinic (where you get your device pocket checked) Explain your symptoms and remind them you have an implanted device. It is possible you will need additional treatments, which your device doctor will explain.

    *Please note that these are the most common signs, there may be other signs not mentioned. This website is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. In case of questions or uncertainty, contact your physician

    Pacemaker defibrillator device results

    Early diagnoses can lead to better results

    This animated video shows what you can do to easily recognize a device infection. Learn what signs and symptoms to look out for so you can help physicians identify the treatment you need, faster.

    Doctors shaking hands

    Shared decision making

    Each heart device patient’s journey is different. Becoming a self-advocate and learning how to talk with your doctor will help you to be an active part in the shared decision-making process.

    Your device in your control 

    Trained doctors

    What happens when the device needs to be removed?

    When the decision is made that removal of your heart device is best for your health, a trained doctor will perform a lead extraction procedure.

    Full system removal means that both the device and leads will be taken out. The procedure starts by making a small incision to access and remove the device. Your doctor may advance a flexible tube (sheath) over the lead, gently freeing the lead from surrounding tissue. The process will be continued until all targeted leads are safely extracted. Ask for more information from your device doctor, they will be happy to further explain.

    Is this procedure safe? 

    A lead extraction is generally a very safe procedure. Although results and risks vary from patient to patient, several large studies show clinical success rates around 98%5 and the risk of major complications is less than 0.5%5.

    Our mission is to provide you with relevant information about symptoms and treatment options for heart device infections and other complications. Patient education and initiatives on CIED infection are created in partnership with physicians and patients.

    The resources found on this site may be printed and brought to your doctor appointment so you can discuss treatment options that best meet your needs.

    1. Kusumoto, et al. (2017). 2017 HRS expert consensus statement on cardiovascular implantable electronic device lead management and extraction. Heart rhythm, 14(12),e503-e551.
    2. Blomström-Lundqvist, C. et al. European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) international consensus document on how to prevent, diagnose, and treat cardiac implantable electronic device infections—endorsed by the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society (APHRS), the Latin American Heart Rhythm Society (LAHRS), International Society for Cardiovascular Infectious Diseases (ISCVID) and the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) in collaboration with the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS). Europace (2020) 22, 515–516 and European Heart Journal (2020) 41, 2012–2032.
    3. iData, MRG, Euromed, EHRA White Book, Product Performance Reports (Biotronik, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and St. Jude Medical), and internal estimates / analysis on file.
    4. Pokorney, et al. Low Rates of Guideline Directed Care Associated with Higher Mortality Among Patients with Cardiac Implanted Electronic Device Infection.
    5. Wazni, O et. al. Lead Extraction in the Contemporary Setting: The LExICon Study: A Multicenter Observational Retrospective Study of Consecutive Laser Lead Extractions, J Am Coll Cardiol, 55:579-586.

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