How Long Will My Pacemaker Last?

May 6, 2024

Surgeon looking at x-ray monitor displaying image of a pacemaker on the screen

Many patients needing a pacemaker or with a recent pacemaker implant are concerned about the durability of the pacemaker’s pulse generator or battery. How long will it last? While we cannot predict exactly when the battery will finally stop, patients can expect, on average, between eight and ten years out of their pacemaker.

What Determines the Life of a Pacemaker Pulse Generator?

In rare cases, pacemakers may lose their battery life early due to a hardware defect, but some important factors affect a normal-functioning pacemaker.

First and most important is how often the pacemaker is required. In other words, how often does it need to fire? Someone with more significant bradycardia will necessarily use the pacemaker more, which depletes the battery more quickly.

Environmental exposures, such as electromagnetic interference and other potential interfering factors, may also shorten the battery life. Therefore, we always suggest that electronic devices not be placed near the pacemaker for extended periods.

Does a Leadless Pacemaker Last as Long as a Traditional Pacemaker?

Don’t let the size of a leadless pacemaker fool you. These fully self-contained devices have a formidable battery life, rivaling that of a traditional pacemaker despite its significantly smaller size. You should not be concerned with battery life either way.

What Happens at the End of the Pacemaker’s Life?

Pacemakers are built for long-term implantation and can often remain in the body for the rest of the patient’s life. However, when a traditional pacemaker loses its charge, we make a small incision in the skin over the pacemaker and remove and replace the pulse generator/battery. This is a quick and relatively easy process. Patients will experience some discomfort but typically not significant pain. Retrieval of a leadless pacemaker is somewhat less predictable, so a second leadless pacemaker may be inserted, with the first being deactivated. This will be at the discretion of your electrophysiologist.

Bottom Line

Once your pacemaker is implanted, you have many years of safe and effective pacing ahead. When it comes time to replace your pacemaker, you will be notified at one of your consultations. You can speak to your electrophysiologist about removing and replacing the pulse generator. Feel free to contact our office to learn more.