Once your pacemaker is implanted, the battery should last five to 10 years, which is the average battery life. When a pacemaker's battery wears out, the entire pacemaker's pulse generator is replaced, and you'll need another procedure to fix your device. The leads of your pacemaker can be left in place — though they may need to be replaced eventually — and the procedure to change your pacemaker's battery is often quicker and requires less recovery time than the procedure to first implant your pacemaker.

Pacemakers are a standard treatment for many conditions affecting your heart's electrical system. By preventing a slow heart rate, pacemakers can treat symptoms, such as fatigue, lightheadedness and fainting. Because most of today's pacemakers automatically adjust your heart rate to match your level of physical activity, they can allow you to resume a more active lifestyle.

Pacemakers and end-of-life issues

If you have a pacemaker and become terminally ill with a condition unrelated to your heart, such as cancer, it's possible that your pacemaker could prolong the process of dying. Doctors and researchers have varied opinions on turning off a pacemaker in end-of-life situations.

If you have a pacemaker and are concerned about turning it off, talk to your doctor. You may also want to talk to family members or another person designated to make medical decisions for you about what you'd like to do in end-of-life care situations.

Apr. 10, 2013