Have you have recently had surgery performed by Dr. Ginkel at Midcoast Cardiovascular to implant a pacer or ICD device? Maybe you’ve had one for years and are in need of a check-up. Whatever the case, once you’ve had some time to recover from surgery and are becoming more comfortable with your implant, it is time for your initial follow-up appointment.
Collecting and Analyzing Data from Your Implant
Implanting the pacemaker offers your surgeon a direct and intimate connection to the heart by helping to maintain a steady heart rhythm, and digitally monitoring how well your heart functions each day. The implant is meant to be a lifeline in case your heart suddenly loses the ability to perform, and acts as a preventative diagnostic tool for future problems that may arise. This constant digital interaction between your heart muscle and the pacer device offers accurate data that your physician can analyze and use to provide you with the best possible care.
Checking In on Your Heart
When Dr. Ginkel begins the follow-up appointment after your pacemaker surgery, he will take your vital signs and ask you a few questions about your progress and comfort level post-surgery. You will also discuss any medications he may have prescribed to improve your heart health, so be sure to let him know of any changes in your performance after taking these medications, as well as any issues you have noticed or new medications you have been prescribed. Then, he or a technician will gather the data recorded by your device, and he will take some time to analyze the data and let you know how you are doing.
Your pacer should last a significant amount of time, but will eventually require replacement. Most pacemakers last for seven to ten years, and ICDs for about four to six years, but this may change as technology improves. Before implantation of the device, a series of tests were conducted to make sure your implant was sufficient for long-term use and performed up to standard. After the surgery and placement, Dr. Ginkel will conduct periodic device evaluations, where a dedicated technician performs diagnostic tests on your device to look for the following:
- Battery life and integrity of the leads attached to the heart
- Ability for the device to produce shock-ICDs
- Any programming issues we see based on the downloaded data we’ve gathered
- Consistent positioning of the device and implant functions.
While these devices are a high-level technology and made to last, there can be issues with their functionality. Should your implant require replacement at any time, we will make the arrangements and take care of the problem. Most issues can be addressed by simply reprogramming your device in the clinic.
At Midcoast Cardiovascular, you will have a regular schedule of follow-up appointments so you can feel confident that your device is working as it should. You may not be in the office every day, but that does not mean you are disconnected from our team. Many of the newer devices are able to remotely transmit data to our clinic using technology similar to your cell phone. Should you require additional check-ups as you experience new sensations or improvements, or if you have any questions, we encourage you to reach out to our clinic at 805-354-0112.