When Your Battery Goes Down...

what happens?

Dear Heather:

I am feeling better, thanks. I hope to be at work and fully functional tomorrow.

You asked: What happens when your battery goes down in your pacemaker? Kim has the long answer for this, you may want to ask her. The short answer is that the pacmaker will tell the doctor that it's time to start thinking about changing it out for a new one. Pacemakers are very smart these days and can give the doctor huge amounts of information. Telling the doctor that the battery is low, is a simple thing for the pacemaker. I saw the domino pictures. It looked like fun, to me.

You Key Pal, too,
Mr. Delos


I am glad to hear that you are getting over your cold. It's miserable, isn't it? My cold is what I call a "travelling too much cold." Since I get to fly on airplanes from place to place and I stay in hotels a lot, I tend to get colds. It's not the flu, I hope. I guess I'll just have to be careful where I breath from now on. Thanks for the concern,

Your Keypal
Mr. D


Good question.

1. Do you know of any famous people who got a pacemaker?

Yes, I do. Some of these you may not know. Mike Wallace of CBS News has one. So does Mother Theresa. Dale Evans (Roy Rogers wife) has one, too. Helmut Schmidt (German Chancellor) got his a few years ago. I am sure there are many, many more famous people with pacemakers. I will try to look a few of them up for you.

2. How does a pacemaker get regenarized?

Pacemakers do not get regenarized. . .they become paper weights when the battery in them is finished. My company used to make a rechargeable pacemaker. The patient had to place a "vest" over the pacemaker site for 1 1/2 hours each week while the recharging unit recharged it through his skin. It did not hurt or even tickle the patient. Some of these rechargeable pacemakers have been implanted for over 20 years now. We stopped making them because they were so large and heavy (because of the type of battery - nickel cadmium).

Great questions. Keep 'em coming.
Yours sincerely ( and feeling better),
Mr. Delos

Dear Kim:

Here are the answers to your questions:

1. How do you know when the battery of the pacemaker dies?

The pacemaker has more than one way to let the doctor know that the pacemaker is nearing it's recommended replacement time. One way is a change in the pacemaker rate when a magnet is placed over it. Another way is through the computer that is in the pacemaker. The computer keeps track of the battery voltage and reports it to the doctor when ever the doctor interrogates (talks to) the pacemaker through a device known as a pacemaker programmer.

2. How do you change the battery of the pacemaker?

You do not really change just the battery. When the battery is no longer able to keep the pacemaker operating normally, the whole pacemaker is removed. Sometimes the pacemaker is sent back to the company to be analyzed (especially if the pacemaker reached its replacement time too soon) or it may be given to the patient to keep as a souvenir. They make great paper weights.

3. What kind of battery is in the pacemaker?

These days almost all pacemaker batteries are made of lithium and iodide. They are called (this will surprise you) Lithium/Iodide batteries. They last about 6 to 9 years, depending on how much the patient uses the pacemaker. You got more questions? Throw 'em at me.

Your Keypal,
Mr. D

Hi, Danielle:

You have more questions? I have more answers.

1. When your battery fails, how do you know?

The pacemaker can tell the doctor that the battery is getting near it's recommended replacement time. Kim has a more complete answer. Ask her.

2. What do you feel?

I feel stuffy, sneezy, grumpy. . .oh, you mean what do you feel when the battery fails. This answer depends upon how dependent the person is to the pacemaker for his heart rate. Some people only use their pacemakers less than 1/2 the time. These people may not even know that the battery has failed until they have a regular visit to the doctor. Some people depend on the pacemaker to support their heart rate most of the time. These people may notice they are more tired than usual, or they may notice skipped beats or they may notice nothing at all. Lastly, people who depend on their pacemakers 100% of the time usually check their pulse every day (of at least a couple of times a week), they are told that, if their heart rates ever drop below a certain amount, they should call the doctor immediately.

3. When you take out the pacemaker to replace the battery how long does it take.

It usually only takes about 1/2 to 1 1/2 hours. It is a very simple (easy for me to say) procedure.

4. How long can a person live without a pacemaker when you're replacing a battery?

If the patient is completely pacemaker dependent, that is, if the person needs his pacemaker to have any heart beat, the doctor usually puts in a "temporary" pacemaker to support the heart rate while he/she changes the pacemaker. Remember, a "battery change" really means changing the whole pacemaker. Thanks for your kind words. I am feeling much better, now. Please keep the questions coming.

Your friend, too,
Mr. D

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