Frequently asked questions
Below are some of the questions that patients with implantable cardiac devices often have.
Please look through these to find the answer to your question.
If you can't find the information you need here, there are contact details at the bottom of the list.
- How to use- We currently use 4 different manufacturers for home monitoring. Please see your manufacturer’s specific information sheet for guidance.
- Power cuts- Don’t worry. Just check that once the power comes back on, it powers back up
- Holidays and moving- Call to let us know if you’re going away for more than 2 weeks so we can make a note and keep it plugged in
- Flashing, beeping, not working- Firstly switch off and on. If problem still persists contact customer care helpline relevant to your device
- Is my home monitor working? If the home monitor has not been in communication with your device for a few weeks it will notify us. We will then contact you to check the connections and that it is still switched on. If these seem OK we will ask you to contact the manufacturer who will be able to investigate.
I’m having problems setting my monitor up
Don’t panic or worry; your device will still work. Please call your manufacturer who will help guide you through the setup
Manufacturer contact numbers
Medtronic Directo 0330 1232112
Boston Scientific Latitude 0800 6781644
Abbott Medical Merlin 0800 3892714
Sorin Microport 0151 6032810
My device fired
If your ICD fires once and you feel ok, and haven’t collapsed and do not continue to experience symptoms such as palpitations, Shortness of breath and light-headedness contact us to notify what has happened. If you have home monitoring we may ask for a download from your device or ask you to attend clinic to check your device.
You should call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance
If however, you
- have more than one shock in one day,
- collapse or
- continue to experience symptoms such as palpitations, Shortness of breath and light-headedness.
Then: the paramedics should assess you, carry out vital checks and if necessary take you to your local hospital. Your local hospital should decide whether you require any treatment there and in some cases will ask you to come to the Essex CTC for further treatment. In our experience in this situation, most patients are treated locally and do not require transfer to us.
The DVLA have strict and complex guidelines on driving once you have an implanted cardiac device and can vary from patient to patient, details can be found at https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/disability-health-condition
They also state that it is the driver’s responsibility to be aware if they are eligible to drive or not. They can be contacted for further information as below
Drivers Medical Enquiries
SA99 1TU Telephone: 0300 790 6806
I’ve been feeling unwell with the flu
If you’re experiencing colds, flu, chest infections, and shortness of breath for example it is unlikely to be the fault of your device. We therefore advise that in these circumstances you see consult your GP first who should assess your condition.
I have a pacemaker and my heart is racing, is my device OK?
Pacemakers only stop your heart rate going too slow so this should not be causing your heart to race.
If you feel unwell you should seek emergency medical help by calling 111 or 999. If you feel ok, you should contact your GP.
I have been advised to contact my heart failure team but I don’t have their details.
- Basildon: 0300 300 1582
- Chelmsford: 0300 131 0111
- Colchester: 01206 588016
- Southend: 01702 482841
Epping locality: 01992 561666 ext 5554,
Harlow & South Uttlesford: 01279 621925,
Harlow & North Uttlesford: 01279 621925
I’m not sure if my device is infected and it looks funny
The area around the device site should look like this (above) and have the same appearance as the area around the other side of your chest
Sometimes, devices can become infected.
If your device shows any signs of infection such as redness, new bruising, becomes swollen, hot to touch or inflamed it is very important that you contact
the arrhythmia nurses on 01268 394 021 so that we can look at the device and assess it.
My device has been beeping at me
As you may already be aware your device is very clever. As a result if your device wants to let us know any important information such as the battery is starting to deplete, it may ‘beep’ or ‘vibrate’. If this happens, please contact us straight away and we may arrange for a download of your device via your home monitor or may ask you to attend clinic.
Is it normal for my stomach to be twitching?
Sometime some patients feel a ‘twitching’ sensation in their stomach. This will not cause you any harm, and is probably due to the pacemaker aggravating the nerve called the phrenic nerve that is located along the front of the chest, close to where the pacemaker stimulates your heart. If you experience this for a short time and are not uncomfortable let us know at your next routine FU. If however it is uncomfortable, stops you sleeping or continues for a long period of time, please contact us and we will arrange for you to attend the clinic where we can adjust your device to stop this from happening.
If for any reason you cannot make your appointment to have your device checked it is important that you contact us and give us as much time as possible to reschedule. As a busy service we have limited spaces and can always fill empty spaces at short notice. If you are eligible and require transport please contact our booking team who can arrange this for you on 01268 624900 extension 4516
Can I have my device checked at my local hospital?
If you have a pacemaker implanted, most local hospital can follow up pacemakers. Please let us know that you would like this to occur and we will contact them and arrange to transfer the care of your pacemaker to them. If however, you have an ICD or CRT pacemaker it may not be possible as some local hospitals do not have the facilities to carry this out. Please ask and we can let you know.
Can I walk through the Security alarms in shops and airports?
Security alarms in the shops are fine. Just walk normally through them, and avoid standing in between for prolonged periods of time.
At the airport, show the security your ID card. They should carry out a hand search. Advise them to avoid the use of the wand and the walkthrough scanners which, in rare cases can interact with your device. Airports have thousands of pacemaker and ICD patients pass through them every year and the security staff are trained and familiar with what precautions if any are required of the particular equipment they use.
Can I use my electric blanket?
There are some case reports of electric blankets interacting with cardiac implantable devices. We advise that if you wish to use one that you use it before you got to bed to warm the bed and turn it off prior to getting into bed.
Can I use my voice activated assistant?
Yes, this will not affect your device
I’d like to wear my Smart Watch (Fitbit/ Apple watch etc) or a magnetic bracelet?
Your watch or bracelet will not interact with your device. The heart rates these devices show can be erroneous so try not ot get fixated on the number they show it is often inaccurate.
Can I go on a rollercoaster?
Some rollercoasters may interact with your device, please follow the rides precautions
If you have a Medtronic Reveal ™Loop recorder, you will have been given the activator to use when you have symptoms. If you use this more than once or have symptoms such as passing out of nearly passing out please contact us and we will arrange for you to come in and have your device checked. If you activator runs out of batteries you can replace them with Duracell N 1.5V batteries.
If you have an Abbott Confirm RX™ that uses the App to log symptoms please use this to record them. If there any significant episodes we will contact you. If you are having problems with the app, please contact Abbott Medical Merlin 0800 3892714
My doctor would like me to have an MRI scan, is this OK?
Most of our newer devices may be MRI compatible under specific conditions. Please ask your doctor to contact us and we can advise them appropriately. Your Device I.D card will have the details of your device the which the MRI Department may ask you for these details.
What happens if I need an operation?
Your device is designed and manufactured to protect itself from lots of different operations. Please take your I.D card along with you if you attend pre assessment. In some cases we will need to speak with the team performing your operation and may need to check and alter your device settings for the duration of the procedure and put them back post operation.
Can I have an X-Ray?
Yes, there is no reason you may now have an X-Ray, if clinically indicated.
Can I have a mammogram?
Yes, in most cases this will be fine. Inform the radiographer that you have a device in situ.
Most dental equipment is fine to use on patients with devices. patients. However there are some pieces of their equipment that may interact with your devices. In any case, your dentist will know the equipment they have that it safe and can be used. As we will be unfamiliar with the equipment that your dentist will be using we are unable to provide written confirmation, a list of commonly used equipment can be found on this website
Can I use an induction cooker hob?
These pose a potential risk of interaction with your device and use should be avoided if possible, or used with caution keeping a distance of two feet between the cooking surface and your device.
Stop using the induction hob is you feel at all unwell.
End of life Care. What happens to my device when I die?
If you have a pacemaker we won’t have to do anything as we can’t turn a pacemaker off.
If you have an ICD, we may have to turn it off, especially if you are being cremated.
In most cases it is best practice when reaching end of life to deactivate your ICD in advance. This will not affect the pacemaker function of your ICD and is carried out in the clinic.
I’m travelling abroad; will I be able to have my device checked?
As within the UK, centre hospitals will only be able to check your device. Always take a copy of your ID card with you and refer to your specific manufactures website for more information if required
I’ve lost my ID card, where can I get a new one from?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and we will send a new one in the post
If you can’t find the answer to your query in the frequently asked questions,
you can contact us by email email@example.com
or telephone 01268 524900 extension 4064 .
Please be advised that we are extremely busy and you will usually get an answer phone.
Our office hours are Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
We will prioritise our responses by clinical need, so some messages may take a few days to get a response.
This contact method should not be used in a medical emergency.