Aims: Guidelines regarding pacemaker (PM) follow-up (FU) are not precisely defined. The study aim is to describe long-term routine in-hospital FU, evaluate compliance to guidelines, and assess the portion of visits-with-an-action (VWA).
Methods and results: The multicentre prospective FOLLOWPACE study collected data in the period 2003-2010, regarding FU of 1517 patients with a first PM for bradycardia indications in 23 Dutch hospitals. A total of 15 472 visits were analysed with a median FU of 4.9 years, adding up to 6750 patient years. The median time to the first three visits was 35, 127, and 303 days, respectively. Thereafter the median interval between visits was 180 days. Most patients had 2 FU/year, 22% had 1 FU/year, and 18% had >3 FU/year. Seventy-three percent of patients with single-chamber PMs had at least 1 FU/year, whereas 36% of patients with dual-chamber PMs received at least 2 FU/year. During the first year, 52% of visits were VWA, as opposed to 17% after 6 years. Battery status was assessed in 98%, and stimulation and sensing thresholds in 90% and 77% of visits, respectively. Reprogramming markedly declined from ≈ 60% in the first FU visit to 10-20% after the fifth visit.
Conclusion: Although the measurements during PM FU are according to guidelines, the frequency of FU is not. Moreover, in the vast majority of performed FU, PM programming is left unchanged. This suggests that a large portion of FU visits is redundant, such that their frequency after the first year can be diminished, or replaced by remote FU.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00135174.