Can CPR be given to someone with a pacemaker?
Yes! Someone with a pacemaker can be given CPR in the event of a cardiac arrest.
A pacemaker is an electrical device that regulates the electrical activity of the heart. Often, people have pacemakers installed due to a slow or erratic heartbeat (a bradycardia). The pacemaker provides extra electrical stimulation to stop the heart beating too slowly.
In the event of a cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood around the body. Immediate CPR is vital to keep the brain and vital organs alive until the arrival of a defibrillator.
A pacemaker is often implanted under the skin underneath one of the collarbones. Chest compressions are delivered over the sternum (centre of the chest). Therefore a pacemaker should not interfere with the delivery of effective chest compressions. Do not worry about damaging the pacemaker or wires – this is not a priority in an emergency situation such as a cardiac arrest.
When a defibrillator is used, the pads should not be placed directly over the pacemaker as this could interfere with the electrical shock delivered to the heart.