thru-hike

Hi everyone! I recently had a pacemaker put in about 4 months ago (I was 23 at the time, now 24). I just got back from my first 40 mile backpacking trip, and wow what a difference my PM made!

Has anyone in this group ever done a thru hike with a pacemaker, and is it even feasible? By thru-hike I mean the AT, PCT, or CDT. It has always been a dream of mine to do the AT and I didn't think it was possible with my PM; but being on the AT for 40 miles made me think about it again.


4 Comments

Backpacking

by CyborgMike - 2020-06-18 21:43:18

Wow. Not many people around here pull off a 40 mile backpack trip at four months.That is awesome that you are feeling better.

I hiked the PCT from Oregon to Canada in my youth, long before my PM, so I appreciate the aspirational goal. 

If you are stable and can pull off a 40 mile hike then you are *likely* going to be OK stringing a lot more days together on a thru-hike. But, the elevation (PCT gets > 13K feet) can cause issues, as can prolonged intense workouts. 

I still do a lot of backpacking, but only 3-4 days at a time and everyone's underlying situation is different. For something that adventurous you really do need to consult your cardiologist.

As a side note... I am healthy and clean exercising/running 4-5 times a week, but in Nov/Dec I did a challenge for work and averaged about 20K-22K steps a day for two months. At the end of the two months I got a call from my EP indicating I had a lot of anomolies in my uploads (some Afib, PVCs, etc.). They all corrolated to workouts during that period. I really wasn't giving my body enough time to rest and the data from my PM was telling on me. I dialed it back and everything is clean. Again, everyone is different. You have a lot of youth on your side, but I'd ask you doc. 

Hiking

by AgentX86 - 2020-06-18 21:59:16

You're doing amazingly well.  I concur that you should consult with your EP but given your shape, I doubt there will be a problem.  I certainly would attempt it but only because I hate carrying anything on my back.  OTOH, since the shutdown I walk 10mi around our neighborhood every day (daily total ~27K steps).  Before the gyms and my employer closed because of Covid, I was doing 40-45K steps during the week and ~30K on the weekend (~1M/mo).  My cardiologist was skeptical at first but then became a believer when my cholesteral numbers started dropping like a rock (and HDL climbing).

I don't see why a PM would get in your way.  There may be some other issues but your PM isn't stopping you now.

 

Hike

by celined - 2020-06-20 08:10:01

Hi Lcounts,

I'm 22 from Australia, and a keen hiker too.

The pacemaker is a fantastic device! It is esentially a battery that acts like the normal wiring (a.k.a pacing of your heart) to you heart. It is much safer to do long hikes with a pacemaker or do any form of activity. This is because the pacing of the heart allows for the heart to beat regularly and respond to your body's physiological needs, to provide the appropriate cardiac output: blood and its nutrients incuding oxygen and energy (glucose etc) to, as well as remove the waste and metabolite by-products from the muscles and organs that are involved in your movements. This is absolutely critical to the health of your muscles and organs, and stops you from experiencing symptoms like feeling out of breath or pain, and of course makes your exercise more enjoyable, allows your body to be healthy and have better endurance. Purely, based of what you have written I think that you would be more capable to complete an enduring hike now more than before your pacemaker. But it's only my opinion, if you have serious concerns, it would be best to talk to your cardiologist.

One other thing if the pack is heavy it can be annoying because it rubs against the skin. My pacemaker has also moved upwards a bit and is right under my skin at one point on my chest, which makes this part particularly uncomfortable. This reason why my pacemaker moved was mainly because I was doing a lot of upper body exercises at one point, gyming etc. and this was not a good idea because my pectoralis major and nearby muscles enlarged pushing against the pacemaker and permanantly moved it, so this is something I would really not recommend.

But anyway, hiking is fantastic, and a great form of exercise, and at the end of the day your pacemaker is on your side, it is there to help you. The only thing is probably the physical aspect. All the best!

do what you want

by Tracey_E - 2020-06-21 10:39:23

Having a pacer by itself doesn't keep us from doing anything, it's not like it needs constant monitoring or is likely to fail. If it fixes what's wrong and your doctor is ok with that level of activity (and if you've done 40 miles, I can't see that he'd fuss at more) then go for it. And post pictures :) 

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