Fishing gives Donald Williams a sense of peace. So, does the knowledge that his abnormal heart rhythm is under control thanks to a pacemaker… a device that helps his heart beat normally. For Donald, the process of implanting the pacemaker in his chest wasn’t a big deal.

To increase the chances of your pacemaker implant procedure going smoothly, as Donald’s did, it’s important to follow instructions. For one week before the procedure, don’t shave near the area where the pacemaker will be implanted, but you can shower. Your health care team may instruct you to wash the surgery site with a special soap the night before and the morning of your procedure.

Don’t eat or drink after midnight the evening before your surgery. However, it’s ok to drink small amounts of water to take medication. Your health care provider may have you temporarily stop certain medications.

Before the procedure, you will be required to sign a consent form. As with any procedure, there are risks associated with implanting a pacemaker. Among them: infection, severe bleeding and a collapsed lung.

Maria, who had her first implant procedure several years ago, says discussing her concerns with the health care team helped make her feel more prepared.

Pacemakers are implanted in either the left or right side of the chest. Your health care team will likely ask which side you prefer. Like many patients, Donald based his decision on which arm he uses most.

Prior to your procedure, you’ll be given medications to relax you and numb the surgical site. In some cases, general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep, may be used.

An incision about three inches long will be made near your collarbone in order to form a pocket just under the skin, where your doctor will implant the pulse generator, which is the power source.

A wire – called a lead -- will be threaded through a vein and into your heart. Depending on your condition, more than one lead may be inserted. Over a period of weeks, the ends of the leads will embed in the heart muscle.

Once the pulse generator and leads are connected, the system is checked to make sure it’s working properly. After the surgical team finishes, they’ll move you to recovery, where you will continue to be monitored. It’s common for patients to be able to get out of bed just a few hours after

However, you may have some discomfort and need to keep your arm in a sling for a while.

By following the advice of his health care team, Donald was able to get back to the activities he enjoys relatively quickly.

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