6 Things to Know About Your Child’s Pacemaker

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A pediatric cardiologist might recommend a pacemaker if your child has a heart defect that prevents their heart from beating normally.

Doctors at Pediatric Cardiology Center of Oregon can evaluate your child for heart rhythm disorders and care for those who have a pacemaker. Dr. Marc D. LeGras, who joined our group in 1996, specializes in conditions treated with a pacemaker. Our physicians treat patients who need a pediatric cardiologist in Portland. We also work in locations around Oregon and Southwest Washington. Please contact us for more information about making an appointment for your child.

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1. What Is a Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is an electronic device. Surgeons implant them under the skin. The pacemaker regulates an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. A battery provides power. The device monitors the heart’s natural electrical signal and can also send a signal to aid the heart to beat properly.


The surgeon might position a pacemaker for an infant or child under the skin near the abdomen. There, fatty tissue offers protection from the rough and tumble of a child’s activities. Pacemakers for teens and adults are usually placed near the collarbone.

2. How Do Doctors Monitor a Pacemaker?

After inserting a pacemaker, pediatric cardiologists check your child thoroughly and continue to monitor the pacemaker during office visits. During checks, the cardiologist may take an x-ray or perform other tests. Parents can also check the pacemaker from home. The pacemaker keeps a record that you can send to doctors by phone or over the internet. Your doctor will make sure you understand how to check the pacemaker remotely.

3. Can My Child Play Normally With a Pacemaker?

Many children with pacemakers live a normal, healthy life. Restrictions depend on your child’s health. Most kids with heart defects that are being managed by a cardiologist can play, take gym class and participate sports. Your pediatrician may recommend avoiding contact sports. Many other physical activities, such as soccer, swimming, bicycling and more are enjoyed by kids with pacemakers.

4. How Long Does a Pacemaker’s Battery Last?

The battery will last for years as will the pacemaker itself. Battery life depends on whether the pacemaker makes each heartbeat or only needs to make a beat periodically. A low battery will show during regularly scheduled checks.

5. What Devices Interfere With a Pacemaker?

Your child’s heart doctor will provide you with information about devices that could interfere with a pacemaker. Pacemaker technology has advanced, and things that used to interfere with the devices, such a microwave ovens, today are safe. Your cardiologist will advise you about what types of machinery to avoid.

6. Can My Child go Through a Metal Detector?

Yes, it’s OK to pass through a metal detector. If the detector sounds an alarm, inform security that your child has a pacemaker.  Don’t allow security personnel to pass the detector wand over the pacemaker. Make sure your child wears a medical bracelet that indicates they have an implanted device.


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