pacemaker speeding up during transport to hospital

I was transported 3 hrs down a bumpy interstate in a emegency van. I had blockages and had stints installed two day later.   I have a question for the medtronics people.  From what i have been told by the doctors installing the pace maker,the shaking of the chess however cause the pacemaker to speed up.  Th three hr trip ended up being 3 hrs with my heart rate at over 100plus.  I felt tightness in my chess.   The problem I am having my pacemaker speeds up with the pulse of the highway.   The emergency people did not realize this was the reason patients are getting faster heatrates.  I am pist that no nurse working on me the last 3 months realizes this happening.  Medtronics should be studying this occurance.   I was pulling trailer behind pickup and the trailer started the same pulsing of my chest.  My heart rate was a high as120.   When i compressed slightly on the pacemaker , it helped.   Are any other pacemaker users having this problem?   I am going to call medtronics next week. CHM


6 Comments

Uncommon problem but real enough

by crustyg - 2019-10-05 04:07:15

There's at least one other contributor who has described the same problem driving his pickup down bumpy rural roads - his EP didn't believe him at first, either.

If it's a frequent or predictably common problem then you need to *consider* asking them to reduce the response factor of the accelerometer of your PM.  But that may well have a big impact on other aspects of your life.

I'm not sure that Medtronics or other PM vendors need to study this: they already understand that the sensor(s) built into the PM boxes that feed into rate response can respond to any form of acceleration.  None of us has a PM that can actually determine our body's need for a greater heart output (which the PM delivers by increasing heart rate): it's all based on sensible assumptions that what is sensed - movement in this case - probably means that you need a higher HR. Folk who use mountain bikes see it, I see it on rough UK roads on my hard-tyred road bike.

We are at the current state-of-the-art.  Not perfect, but pretty good for most of us.

It's common enough

by Theknotguy - 2019-10-05 07:41:00


The speeding up of the heart due to the pacemaker being shaken is a common problem.  I've reported several times that I've had the same problem when riding in larger trucks.  Also had the same problem when riding on a diesel powered bus.  We were on a trip and had to change seats every day.  In one seat, the combination of the bumpy road plus the vibration of the diesel engine combined to shake my pacemaker enough to cause it to speed up my heart rate.  Not as much as yours although I suspect you had some other problems going on too.   Sometimes I'll even get the problem when riding in a car especially if the road is really bumpy or I'm in a construction zone.  My rate response was set at the lowest setting and the shaking still caused a speeding up of my heart rate.  Oh, and since the emergency squad trucks are larger and have the dual wheels in the back, they bounce around more than a smaller truck or car.  

All I have to do to stop it is to reach up and put my hand over the pacemaker so it isn't shaken so much.  The running joke when I'm riding in the trucks is that I'm giving the driver a Roman salute as we're going down the road.  Looks funny but it stops the pacemaker from speeding up my heart rate. If I'm doing the driving I don't get the problem as much but it still can happen especially in construction zones.

Unfortunately as Crustyg says, it's a problem we have to live with at the time as the accelerometer in the pacemaker can't tell the difference between the shaking while you're doing exercise and the shaking due to external causes.  I don't know if Medtronic will have any suggestions or not.  I've told my EP about it and I just get a smile and a shrug.  Since my other problem is that I'll be dead without my pacemaker it's a small enough bother with which to deal.  

I hope everything else is going well for you.  
 

Good vibrations

by Gotrhythm - 2019-10-05 17:11:42

I don't know about pacemaker recipients in the general population, but here at Pacemaker Club, it's pretty common for someone to post about the rate response sensitivity to vibration.

I'm pretty sure Medtronic et.al. know about it. Other medical people--like EMT's---probably not so much. I have found some medical people to be really ignorant, even when it's  something they really should know to do their jobs.

The same problem can occur in reverse. In other words, you need the pacemaker to speed up, but it doesn't, because there isn't enough vibration/bumpiness. You're not going to perform well on a fitness test that requires you to ride a stationary bike.

All I can say is, like Theknotguy, figure out how to live with it.  And be prepared to educate ambulance attendants and others about what is going on.

bumpy roads

by islandgirl - 2019-10-05 20:52:23

I was going on a trip with lots of bumpy roads in a van.  My EP slightly reduced the sensitivity of the rate response for the trip, then set it back to where I had it before upon my return.  The PM thinks you're exercising, so speeds up.

My EP says it can be uncomfortable, but harmless. 

Not bumpy enough

by Elisabet - 2019-10-06 04:10:14

I complained that I couldn't begin to exert myself because I'd hit the wall with fatigue just as I was getting going on the erg, although I could go for long periods as a gentle pace. The Medronic tech thought it might be that the motion was too smooth on the rowing machine. He said that runners had no problems, but bicyclists and swimmers often had to tap on the pacemaker frequently to keep their heart rate up.

Of course though I don't use the accelerometer at all since I have an AV block, so that wasn't my issue (it was the max rate setting). 

then again...

by ROBO Pop - 2019-10-06 05:00:49

While I agree it's most likely rate response, don't overlook the simple...you're flying through town with heaven knows how many good looking guys or gals working on you, the siren blaring everything highly animated. Could simply be the excitement

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