Hiking with a pace maker

I have to get a pace maker installed this year.    We have planned on hiking the Camino in France and Spain this fall.  the hike is approx 900K.

How long after having a pace maker installed can you hike that distance.  I would also need time for some training.



A good hike

by Theknotguy - 2019-01-20 12:14:24

That's a good hike.  Question is how good of shape were you before getting the pacemaker?  I was regularly doing the 3.5 mile pet trail with the dogs so getting back up to speed wasn't as hard.  I had (and still do) have problems where they broke the ribs doing CPR.  My daypack has the thicker straps so they don't rub on the pacemaker site as much.  The first couple of times I wore the daypack I would be a little sore from getting the skin and underlying muscles stretched out.  

You need to figure it will be 4-6 weeks to heal from the pacemaker implant.  How soon the swelling goes down depends upon your body type.  Then you'll have to figure there is some underlying tissue healing.  How long that will take to heal is anyone's guess.  Mine took about nine months.  The next thing will be to make sure you have some kind of padding in case the backpack or daypack straps do rub the pacemaker site.  After that it will just be how strong your body is overall.  I didn't need anything more than just some padding to keep the strap off the implant site.  

One other thing I did was to put filled water bottles in my backpack during my first training sessions.  If I felt good starting out but then started getting tired or sore I could just dump the water and go with a lighter pack.  That way I could judge how much the backpack straps would be rubbing the implant site.  For me, I found that one of those across the chest straps helped because it kept the backpack straps from slipping out onto my shoulders.  It's a little more hotter because it keeps the pack snug to your back but it's better than having the straps rub the implant site.  Even then, the first few times I was sore because I'd be stretching out the underlying tissue and skin.  

I also carried the daypack during a trip through England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. No problems.  I also got to the point where I could sling it on the same side as my pacemaker.  

If anything, you should feel better with the pacemaker because you'll be getting a good blood supply and plenty of oxygen to your system because the pacemaker is making sure the heart is working like it should.  

Hope your long hike goes well.  

It all depends ……...

by IAN MC - 2019-01-20 12:26:14

Hiking the Camino must be a great thing to do (and is is on my bucket list) but it is impossible to give a sensible answer to your question , There are simply too many individual variables e.g :-

- Why are you having a pacemaker ?

- How fit are you now ?

- Is your current heart-problem affecting how much training you can do now ?

- What will your daily mileage be , you don't say how long your trek will last ?

- Will your PM settings affect your stamina initially which is possible but not definite ?

- How many changes to your PM settings will you need before they are optimised for you ?

If your PM has no adverse affects on the way you feel then the implant is almost irrelevant in terms of training time needed to walk say 30 or so miles per day. You will have a dressing which is removed after about a week then you can start gentle walking and then build up fairly quickly to a decent mileage. I resumed running after 3 weeks as an example..

I would want to be able to comfortably walk 30 miles before embarking on the Camino but some people apparently do it with very little training.

We are all totally different in the ways we react to getting a pacemaker . I didn't think it was a big deal , a minority of people find it quite traumatic.  Also there is a massive variation in the way people can handle SERIOUS exercise post-pacemaker.  I was surprised that I was no longer able to run marathons but that doesn't apply to everyone.

Best of luck




Hike with PM

by ar_vin - 2019-01-21 16:29:18

You already have some helpful answers above.

As has been suggested above, the first question for you is: why are you a candidate for a pacemaker? The next question: what is your current hiking fitness?

I'll share my own experience. I typically have hiked 10-20 mile hikes in the hills around the SF Bay Area for several years each weekend. I also have done several 50+ mile backpack trips in the Sierra at altitude (10000 ft - 14000 ft). Around mid 2017 I was diagnosed with sick sinus syndrome (SSS) and in September 2018 I was implanted with a two lead Medtronic PM.

My EP suggested waiting two months before getting back to my 10+ mile hilly hikes so I waited until late November to return to my regular weekend hikes. But within a week of my implant I was walking 3-6 miles every day with little discomfort.

I still struggle on the uphill stretches of some of the longer hikes; I know my PM setting need to be optimized for my activities. I plan to make an appointment with my PM tech and have the settings adjusted to help pace me better during steep uphill stretches. 

After the implant I was primarily being paced at the lower rates - below 60 bpm. My sinus node seemed to be pacing me fine at the upper rates. The more recent remote monitor readings should reveal more about more recent history.

You should request the PM be implanted under the pectoral muscle so it's not in the way of the pack straps. My EP was happy to accomodate my request; be aware that the recovery for a sub pectoral implant is somewhat longer. But I didn't find it particularly painful or uncomfortable.

It's best to allow your body to heal after the implant and give time for you to recover your pre-implant fitness as well as tweak the PM settings based on your activities.

Welcome to the PM club and please feel free to ask more questions!




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