I need a pacemaker fitted

Hi, I’m new to this. I’m 62yrs old, in the UK (currently in lockdown). I have always kept myself reasonably fit and healthy (sport, running, cycling, swimming, hiking etc), but have felt progressively unwell over the last 2yrs, and am now getting regular episodes of nearly passing out, being drained of all energy & aware of my heart not coping. I also have chronic asthma. I’m under a cardiologist who has found my heart rate to be slow (bradycardia) and occasionally irregular, so he has recently suggested I have a pacemaker fitted. I’ve read around the symptoms/condition/procedure etc … and am probably just looking here for some some re-assurance, encouragement & any advice … (I’ve joined Pacemaker Club today)



by Tracey_E - 2020-05-01 10:13:07

You just described all the symptoms of having a too-low heart rate. If that is what is causing your symptoms, then you should be feeling much better once paced! The pacer won't let your rate get too low, and if you exercise and it doesn't go up on it's own, it'll kick in and help with that also.

Electrical problems are unrelated to how fit we are, not taking care of ourselves causes plumbing problems. Electrical problems are more like a short circuit, they just happen sometimes and we don't know why. But it's an easy enough fix! I've been paced for 26 years now. There's nothing I want to do that I cannot.

Talk to your doctor about what type of pacer they will give you. Some of them do better with swimming and cycling than others so make sure your docs know you swim and cycle. 

It's a journey

by crustyg - 2020-05-01 10:20:20

Hi: I'm almost exactly 1yr since implantation, also a keen athlete.

Make *CERTAIN* that your EP doc knows what sort of sports you enjoy and wish to continue - not all PMs are created equal.  For road cyclists BostonScientific's Accolade is the best PM available, IMHO and experience.  There's another vendor originally from Italy whose PMs support road cycling well.

There are several challenges ahead: your PM has to work out when your HR should be increased and there's no magic about this: it can detect movement (an accelerometer exactly as in a smartphone), which all Rate Response PMs can do, and for activities where there isn't a lot of upper body movement, measurment of of your breathing (depth and rate) as a marker of muscle activity.  As an athlete you *WILL* need to have your PM tuned/adjusted for you.  Try to charm your EP into giving you a formal tuning session (on a treadmill, static bike, dancing down the corridor etc.), otherwise it may take you several years to get your PM properly tuned for *YOU* - and until it's properly tuned, you won't get the most out of it.

Second challenge: the emotional impact of having a small box implanted inside you, that controls a big part of your life, and over which you have NO control requires some adjustment.  Quite a few folk find that the emotional scars of a new PM take longer to heal than the physical ones - as I did.  PM implanted at 09:30, home by 14:30, out on the bike four days later.  Even the ridiculous ban on driving for a week after first PM implantation is a shock.  Ridiculous as it doesn't distinguish between PM dependent and non-PM dependent drivers.  But my box wasn't programmed as my EP and I had discussed, there were lots of little niggles and frustrations which were infuriating.  Maximum charm is the answer - learn all you can and charm everyone (EP doc, EP techs, company reps who *really* know their products) because that's how you will get what you want and once they recognise that you know what you're asking for you will usually get it.  How any EP tech keeps up with *all* of the key features/gotchas for all of the PMs and ICDs that they come across I really don't know.  These devices have dozens of little features, niggles, gotchas, special modes, the list is gigantic. 

But, and this is a big but, you will get through it, and feel a lot better/younger/fitter and life carries on: this last part can't be emphasised enough.  This little box may save you from fainting whilst driving and crashing etc.

As Mae West said, Growing Old is not for sissies.  But it's a heap better than the alternative.  I wouldn't be without mine.


Thank you

by richley - 2020-05-01 15:57:15

Thank you so much for the feedback/comments: they've really been very helpful & boosted my confidence no end.
I now hope I don't have too long too wait for my PM (in these lockdown times) ... my symptoms seem to be getting worse each day (I ended up in A&E again today ... struggling staying conscious!)


struggling staying conscious

by AgentX86 - 2020-05-01 17:10:51

If it's that bad, it's no longer elective surgery. Not only could syncope be fatal but your oxygen levels this low aren't doing your organs (or your brain) any favors.  I'd be screaming to get it done NOW!

Get it done

by LondonAndy - 2020-05-02 01:02:07

Having a pacemaker inserted is no big deal in terms of medical things - the NHS alone does more than 40,000 of them a year, and it will most likely be a case of in-and-out in a day.  I got mine as a result of surgical complication when a new heart valve was fitted and they accidentally damaged my heart's electrics, so I had other things on my mind when I came out of hospital and it was months before I thought "what do I need to know about pacemakers?"  In other words, I simply didn't notice the change in my life of having one.

That was almost 6 years ago now, and apart from annual checkups I don't really think about it.  After the initial 6 weeks of allowing the incision to heal, I applied Bio Oil daily, admittedly for some months, and it is almost impossible to see the scar now.  No problem with air travel either.


by Teffri - 2020-05-04 19:44:11

Hi and welcome. I am 42 and this time last year was in exactly the same place you are now (minus the global pandemic complication). I was terrified of getting a pacemaker and tried to convince myself right up to the day of the surgery that I didn't need it. 

Anyway, 9 months on I feel amazing. Seriously, it's changed my life. I have the energy I had at 30, my VO2 max is in the top range for my age bracket. I am so thankful I had a doctor who took me seriously and convinced me to have the op.

So best of luck going forward!

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