Pacemaker and Covid 19

I am a 41 year old male.  I have a single lead pacemaker for bradycardia.  I've had the pacemaker for about 15 years.  I have a family history of high blood pressure but it's totally controlled with medication.  Would you think I'm at any higher risk for experiencing severe Covid 19 symptoms if I contract it?  I am trying to determine risk as I get back out into society as my state opens back up.  I am in medical sales so I interact with many people.  I woudnt think the pacemaker would cause any extra risk but I'm not 100% sure.  Thoughts??  Thank you 


My 2 cents

by Gotrhythm - 2020-05-06 15:02:56

You're not the first to ask this question, and given that this pestilence will be with us for at least a couple of years, you won't be the last. I don't know any more than the average lay person, but I have formed an opinion, for what it's worth.

Statistically, people with pacemakers have about the same life expectancy as people without. So there's no reason to think having a pacemaker puts you at any higher risk than anyone else in your age group.

But this virus is still largely an unknown. We just don't have the data yet to understand exactly what combination of factors contribute to getting very sick and or surviving. While it is true that the pacemaker itself doesn't statistically make us more likely to get sick, we kid ourselves if we think the pacemaker makes our heart normal.

If I remember correctly, high blood pressure is a risk factor. Whose high blood pressure, controlled or uncontrolled, when and where, combined with age, sex, or race, or what might be mitigating factors--we just don't know. I heard a private patctice medical doctor say, "It will be a couple of years before we know what the consequences of a Covid19 infection really are."

I understand you need to make a living, and you need to assess the risk vs. reward. 

I would suggest you talk this question over with whoever is treating your high blood pressure. Knowing you history and background, they would be more likely to be able to estimate your risk level, and maybe suggest ways, other than isolation, of taking care of yourself.

I feel for all who are having to weigh the risk. May the Force be with you.



And my two pence!

by LondonAndy - 2020-05-06 16:44:24

This is a new virus, so I don't think there is enough information to say anything with 100% confidence, but from my amateur research so far pacemakers haven't been mentioned at all. 

However, if infected seriously (reports here in the UK today suggest that how badly you are affected is related to the "viral load" - ie how much of the virus you get) it seems blood oxgen levels drop and, because of a lack of increase in CO2, we don't notice this (limited symptoms) but it puts more strain on the heart as it works harder to try and pump oxygen around.  Our pacemakers may not sense this increased demand, since rate response often depends on movement increase etc, and also if you are overweight then that adds strain too of course.

Of the roughly 30,000 deaths here, newspapers have reported that, of those, only 302 people were under the age of 45.  So to my amateur mind I wouldn't be too worried, but I would be adjusting my behaviour at work: social distancing if possible, or wear a face mask if not, no shaking of hands, kissing, or sex in the stationery cupboard!  And regularly washing hands of course.

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Member Quotes

My eight year old son had a pacemaker since he was 6 months old. He does very well, plays soccer, baseball, and rides his bike. I am so glad he is not ashamed of his pacemaker. He will proudly show his "battery" to anyone.