pacemaker electrocutions

My dual lead pacemaker, i believe imported into the UK was first programed to activate  and deal with high or low heart beats. The pacemaker and leads moved back and forth in a long pocket  with every movement of my arms and shoulders which i thought was obviously intended.  I believe a lead was put through a vein straddling a valve and pulled tight.

After the node ablation i was soon being awakened at night. always on my side with symtoms of Tacycardia, high blood pressure, dizzyness, tinnitus and sickness.

Then after a period of around 18 months of these symptoms i was awakened again on my side, but this time with a terryfying and extremly painful series of electrocutions direct to my heart.  Each severe intense electrocution lasted from 3 to 6 or so seconds, then a break as if it was recharging before electrocuting the heart again. I am unable to say how many times this happened but more than 3 to 5 before i must have been thrown into a different position or passed out.  Although some of my memory is returning i am unable to remember how any one of these many events ended. The electrocutions gripped my heart wringing and twisting it out of position, like wringing out a wet dish cloth.  I was curled up into a tight ball, paralised and disabled, unable to breath by the severe and terryfying intense pain which is not possible for me to discribe properly.

Definately not a leak of the weak signal on its way down the lead to make the heart beat which is frequently discribed on the forums.  Has anyone else experienced these severe and violent electrocutions causing these symptoms?   Could this be a dodgy pacemaker or leads?  Can anyone with technical pacemaker and lead build knowledge explain the circumstances necesary for these severe electrocutions to occur.

Thankyou,  Wolfy.



Revisiting this topic

by crustyg - 2019-10-09 13:36:59

Hi Wolfy:

My understanding - perhaps limited - is that it's possible for some patients, at some times, to experience the pacing impulses in other muscles than the intended heart muscle.  The voltages are certainly high enough to trigger muscle contraction!  The usual signal to your heart isn't a 'weak' signal if it can cause muscles to contract.  A TENS machine can have the same effect - it doesn't need to be 100-240V.

I *believe* it used to be much commoner with unipolar pacing - the metal can of the PM was one end of the circuit and the lead into your heart was the other.  Under certain conditions the pacing voltage could be felt in the pectoral muscles or the diaphragm or both.

These days, it's very unusual to find anyone set up with unipolar to start with, and almost certainly not the case in 2016, when bi-polar leads would have been used - the outer ring of the insulated lead is one side of the voltage and the tip of the lead (also insulated) is the other.  But leads can fail and pretty much all PMs can switch from bipolar to unipolar if they need to (bad impedance values, leakage from outer lead due to insulation being eroded, fibrosis around the lead at the heart end etc.).

Tell me you've had a proper interrogation/PM check since you posted about this in July?  Did you request and receive ALL of the reports from your PM?  You can take a USB memory stick with you and they will give you everything that the programmer has collected from your device.  It shouldn't be difficult for you to charm your EP doc to instruct the EP tech to give you this information.

Clearly this is important to you and upsetting you.  You need to be your own advocate to get the right people to help sort this out - there are some very experienced contributors here who can walk you through what the reports mean, if there's any evidence of lead problems etc.  But it's down to you to prepare yourself, read, learn, ask good and better questions and politely not take 'No' for an answer.

Good luck.

Has anyone else experienced ......

by Gotrhythm - 2019-10-09 14:48:21

You have asked this question before, posting about the same problem.

Reading the posts, and all ot your repiles to other's comments, I see that the "electrocution" problem stopped after you were given a new pacemaker.

Is this right? Are you talking about a problem you once had, but no longer have? 

I notice that what you ask is "Has anyone else experienced these eletrocutions?"

People posting here often phrase their question that way. Sometimes it's easy to guess what thelp they are really looking for. But sometimes it isn't. Since you continue to ask the same question, I assume you haven't  gotten the answer you needed yet.

Here's my answer.

No, I have never had that experience or anything similar. Thank God. I imagine that it would be terrifying. Even if I were told a new pacemaker had fixed it, the fear that the "electrocution" was going to happen again wouldn't go away quickly. The memory of it happening would prey on my mind. I wouldn't really trust that a new pacemaker wouldn't malfunction in the same way that the old one did.

Is that what is going on with you? It was horrifying and you still think abou it. If so, lots of people have experienced that. It's really pretty common when people have gone through extreme pain and/or a brush with death--no matter what caused it.

What could someone say that would help you understand it better, or help you deal with it?

leaky something...that's for sure

by ROBO Pop - 2019-10-09 23:29:19

Ah once again we discuss this. In reviewing your post several things pop out. Your device you listed is a three lead, not a two lead and it's made by Boston Scientific not St. Judes. Second you still don't share any medical interactions you've had on this issue with a doctor in spite of the horrific pain it's causing you.

If you were having electrical issues as you report, it would show in an interrogation or download from your home monitor. As a design engineer I cannot think of a scenario where a pacemaker would cause the phenomenon you describe.

However there are several solutions available to you:

1. have them turn the device off and see if the problem persists

2. insist Boston Scientific replace the device. It's under recall for early battery failures so demand a replacement

Frankly I think therapy might be in order

You know you're wired when...

You fondly named your implanted buddy.

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