Hello!! I am scheduled for a pacemaker on Thursday! I am 51. I have been trying to get in shape for several years-finally found out why I was failing at any strenuous exercise( sweaty and felt horrible pounding in chest/neck). According to my stress test, my heart rate did not get above 50...I am very nervous, but hopeful. I was hoping for some tips on post op sleeping, pain relief, etc! Also, will the pacemaker help the pounding feeling? Thank you all so much in advance!!


Welcome Newbie

by AgentX86 - 2020-09-01 23:07:26

I'm not sure you can join the club until you've passed the pacemaker test.  I'm sure you don't want to be here either but welcome anyway.

It's hard for us to tell you much about what to expect from your pacemaker without knowing more about you.  You obviously have Bradycardia but why?  Sick Sinus Syndrome?  Heart block?

The surgery and recovery are almost always minor.  There is some pain, which varies quite a lot.  I had virtually none.  Others have a tough time with it.  Ice and an NSAID are your friends.  Often we're told not to take NSAIDs but this is one time to ignore that admonishment, if need be.

I found that sleeping in a recliner is the best plan for a while.  I slept in a recliner for many weeks after my CABG surgery so I wasn't unfamilliar with it.  It worked then, so the pacemaker was a walk in the park.  In any case, rolling over on the pacemaker side isn't something that's going to be fun for a while.  Others have had success hugging a body pillow, while others simply sleep on their backs.  Whatever makes you comfortable.

Whatever you do, do not use a sling.  You want to use that shoulder normally, with the exception of raising your hand above your shoulder, moving it behind your back, or a full extention forward.  Lifting 5-10lbs (depending on your cardiologis/EP) is also out for six weeks or so.  For any other restrictions (bathing, etc.) listen to your doctor!

glad you found us!

by Tracey_E - 2020-09-02 10:23:14

Glad they found out the problem! I'm a few years older than you at 53 but have been paced since 1994 so been around this block a few times. You are probably going to find that you have SO much more energy! As you learned, it's impossible to work out if your rate isn't going over 50. Normal levels of oxygen is going to feel like a whole new world.

It's hard to say cuz I'm not a doctor but my guess is the pounding will get better because your heart isn't going to have to work so hard. 


wear a button up shirt to the hospital. You won't want to be pulling anything over your head the first few days. I didn't bother with a bra the first couple of weeks, wore a tank instead because twisting to put it on wasn't happening. 

Ice, ice, then ice some more. I found ice was better for pain relief than any meds.

Try hugging a small pillow when you sleep. It kept me from rolling onto my sore side, and I am not flat chested so for me I could wedge it between the girls and keep the weight of them from pulling on the incision. 

If you have questions, don't be shy! I'ts perfectly normal to be nervous. Have you seen one? You can ask them to show you one, you will probably be surprised how small it is. Keep a positive attitude, that's your very best weapon for a quick recovery. 


by Twinmom - 2020-09-02 10:57:26

Thank you both for the great suggestions! To clarify- the doctors say my diagnosis is 2nd/3rd degree heart block. I look forward to a positive result and greater energy!!

heart block

by Tracey_E - 2020-09-02 11:50:12

That's what I have also. With heart block, the sinus node in the atria usually works normally and goes up and down on activity like it's supposed to but the signal isn't getting to the av node in the ventricles so our pulse doesn't go up. So the atria is working and working (possibly that pounding you feel) going faster when you work out but the ventricles are just chugging along at whatever pace they're in the mood for. 50, apparently. 

The pacer is going to make sure that every time the atria beats, the ventricles keep up so your pulse goes up like it should and the heart stays in sync. This is the absolute easiest problem for a pacer to fix because our hearts are still setting the pace, all the pacer has to do is play follow the leader and keep the ventricles in sync. If we have to have a heart condition, we have a good one. Once fixed, we have virtually no limitations. I hike, ski, kayak, do Crossfit, ride roller coasters. There's nothing I want to do that I cannot. 

Wishing you a super easy surgery and fast recovery. Be careful reading too much here, we tend to attract the rare complications along with the confused newbies. Complications are actually very rare, tho it may not seem that way by reading the posts here. 

Heart block

by AgentX86 - 2020-09-02 12:26:38

As Tracy says, this is probably the easiest of the heart maladies to correct with a pacemaker. You pounding problem will probably be helped but there are no guaranteed. The pounding may just be that your heart has to work harder, or there is an uncommon problem where the top half of the heart doesn't beat with the bottom half (AKA, AV dissyvchrony. This can actually cause blood to flow in reverse part of the cycle. You'll then get this pounding. Either way, a pacemaker will correct the problem.

You know you're wired when...

You participate in the Pacer Olympics.

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