Working out with a pacemaker

Hi everyone ! Im new to this club and this is my first post. I am 19 years old and have a pacemaker since i was 6. I had a pacemaker change when i was ~14, but still have the original leads, wich are now 14 years old.I started lifting weights when i was 17, with my doctor permission, but i was cautious with chest training. Recently i noticed that when i elevate my arm above my shoulder with a certain angle there is extracardiac stimulation of my chest, basically my pacemaker is stimulating my chest muscles.But even when my arm is down there still is a little stimulation, almost not noticeable. I am scared that i may have a fractured lead since they are pretty old. 

    Then there is the impact on my mental health, starting lifting weights gave me confidence and now it is part of my life. I can't see me without working out at least 3 times a week. But for the first time i feel limited by my condition, and i feel quite depressed about it.I already sacrificed chest and shoulder training and will now cut off pull ups and maybe rows, because of the arm elevated position. 

   I would like to know if anyone has already been in a similar position, like breaking a lead or having to quit exercising, and how did you cope with it.I thank you all in advance. 




Leads and weights

by doublehorn48 - 2019-01-29 23:17:19

I was lifting before my pacemaker and I still lift weights.  The leads will wear out if all you do is move your arms.  Leads are like pacemakers, they  need to be replaced ever so often. I would check to see if your leads are wearing out.  If they are replace them.  There are a number of people on this forum that have been quite active for several decades.  Get checked.  You're too young to have hit your max in the bench press.

Stay active,

M. Scott 

Breaking leads

by Buzbuz9 - 2019-01-30 01:57:21

Hey I'm Abi. I'm also 19, and I've had a pacemaker since I was 7 months old. I have had 6 different pacemakers at this point, and I have broken two different leads.

The first was when I made it to kindergarten because I had grown so much that the lead had  snapped. I have a 2 lead pacemaker and that was my main lead so I instantly collapsed and needed to go to the hospital.

The second time was when I was 17 and at  a family reunion I think I broke it when I jumped off the boat, but I'm really not sure cuz it was just my synchronisation lead so it just made me really tired. I still needed to get it replaced rather quickly though.

With both of my lead brakes I have never felt any other kind of electric shock or stimulation. I definitely lean more towards the caution side now that I have broken leads, but I would definitely go see your cardiologist if you are being shocked by your pacemaker that is something bigger than just a broken lead because your leads are encased in a rubber like coating and they're actually a very small tiny coil inside the connects to a metal screw that goes into your heart. You definitely should not feel any electricity coming from them even if you have broken them.

that being said I would steer away from those activities that are causing you to be shocked, until you talk to your cardiologist or a doctor a least.


by Tracey_E - 2019-01-30 09:51:56

It sounds like maybe a lead is going bad, insulation can rupture. It's more likely it's from you growing and/or age of the lead than anything you've done. Leads do not last forever, and kids tend to go through them more quickly than adults. Get it fixed then get back to doing what you love. I love lifting also, best anti-depressant and stress reliever there is! 

call the doc

by dwelch - 2019-02-12 05:27:02

I have a 30 year old lead a 23 year old lead and a 2 year old lead all three being used.  As pointed out already starting so young I would expect these sort of lead issues.

I now have a biventrical (three lead) pacer, and I get "belly bumps"  the lead on the other side which they normally dont use for two lead, can stimulate the tummy muscles as well as the heart muscle.  kind of a delicate balance too strong of a signal it hits too much, too weak and it doesnt keep the heart working right.  I usually have to be standing just right and breath out just right and sometimes it happens for a beat or two.

so it may be that because your lead was put in young it may be short and you are pulling the heart toward these other muscles and it is stimulating them as well.  Technically there could be a crack in the insulation and it is getting lucky and stimulating through that but I doubt it.  

Call your doc, tell them this story.  I got my first one at 19 when I was mostly done growing.  You are in a special subset of the club that started before you stopped growing and there are no doubt special issues there.  Maybe you need a new lead.  I wouldnt keep causing this situation until you have that conversation with the doc and they fix it.

Otherwise, if/when you resolve this if it is a new adult sized lead or whatever, you can lift all the weights you want, and do just about every other activity.   You should not have this limitation with a pacer after the recovery period.

This is a short term problem, not something you have to give up forever.  Hopefully that helps, but it I understand that there is still that anxiety until this is resolved.

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