Cardiac pacemakersand defibrillators

Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about implantable cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators. Learn about how the implantation surgeries work, what they may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

To see how pacemaker implantation is done, view the animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for pacemaker and defibrillator implantation and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost.


Pacemaker costs Defibrillator costs

Learn about pacemaker implantation

This short animation explains how the heart functions and shows how surgeons implant pacemaker leads and pulse generators. 

The basics


Implantable pacemakers and defibrillators are battery-powered electronic devices that are placed in your chest to treat abnormal heart rhythms. Over 17,000 pacemaker surgeries are performed in Australia every year.

Signs you may need pacemaker surgery

  • You have an abnormally slow or rapid heartbeat
  • Your heart beats irregularly, maybe stopping for several seconds at a time

The details

Considering surgery

How pacemakers and implantable defibrillators work

How the devices can be used to treat arrhythmias and heart failure.
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Why might I need a device?

The conditions that could lead to you needing a device.
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Treatments to consider before opting for surgery

Treatment of underlying conditions or medication may be the first step.
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Results vs risks of surgery

The benefits and potential complications of pacemakers and implantable defibrillators.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
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Questions for your cardiologist & anaesthetist

What you should be asking before going ahead with surgery.
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Preparing for surgery

Pre-operative tests and what you can do to reduce the risk of complications.
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Your anaesthetic options

The types of anaesthetic you may be offered.
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Your surgery

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your procedure.
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Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
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Recovery & aftercare

After surgery

Your aftercare and recovery.
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Living with a pacemaker or defibrillator

Travel and medical procedure guidelines and follow-up appointments. 
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Patient experiences

HCF members who’ve had a pacemaker or defibrillator implanted talk about preparation, their hospital stay, and their recovery.

View videos

Living with Heart DiseasE

People with heart disease talk about the impact it's had on their physcial and mental health, and how they stay positive. 

View videos

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Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.