Pacemakers: Your Questions Answered

Medical Breakthroughs and Discoveries

Medical experts in the field of cardiology recently participated in a November presentation as part of Shell Point’s new Medical Breakthroughs & Discoveries program, an annual community speaker series that serves as a free healthcare resource to residents of Southwest Florida. Dr. Paul DiGiorgi of Lee Memorial Health System focused on cardiothoracic surgery during his in-depth presentation, which included discussion of the future Shipley Center Cardiothoracic Surgery Innovation, Education & Research.

Next, Anuj Agarwal, MD, and Ricardo Escarcega, MD, RPVI, FACC, and Shell Point resident and quintuple-bypass survivor Lex Roulston answered questions about heart health during a Q&A panel discussion. Here are just a few of the questions from the session.


Q. My heart beats out of rhythm. What are my options?

A.There are actually two devices that patients can receive that assist the heart. One is a pacemaker, and the other is a defibrillator. A pacemaker is a small, battery-powered device that prevents the heart from slowing down by producing electrical pulses to control abnormal heart rhythms. A defibrillator is also battery-powered, and detects chaotic or fast heart rhythms. This device sends electric shocks to restore the heart to a normal beat. Your doctor can identify the best option specific to your medical situation.

Q.After heart surgery, how long does it take to get back to “normal?”

A.Recovery time depends the procedure and the patient. It could take as little as a few hours of bed rest to feel better. Some patients are back on the golf or tennis court within 5-10 days.

Q. Do the batteries in a pacemaker ever need to be recharged?

A.Yes, and thanks to technological developments of the last decade, it’s easier than ever to monitor your device. To test a battery, a trans-telephonic wand waved in front of your chest can run diagnostics and transmit data to your physician for recording. A 45-minute procedure under anesthesia and a few hours of monitoring should be sufficient to replace the battery if needed.


Be sure to return on Wednesday, January 13 at 10:15 a.m. for The State of Healthcare in Southwest Florida, presented by Jim Nathan, President and CEO of Lee Memorial Health System. This program is the second in the 2015-2016 Medical Breakthroughs & Discoveries Series at Shell Point Retirement Community.