I had my bi-ventricular defibrillator implanted Sept 8th and thus far my recovery has been easy.  I've learned a lot from many of your posts and experiences. The one thing I've yet to see is, did the implant surgery impact your appetite?  I've been so hungry afterwards almost to the point that I don't ever feel full. I'm eating the same amounts that I did pre-surgery but I just don't feel full. I do eat gluten free but pre-surgery I would feel my hunger satiated. I'm not craving anything specific, just hungry. I really don't want to overeat and gain weight.    Curious to hear if others experienced this and what could be the cause?




In general, improved appetite is a good thing

by crustyg - 2020-10-07 04:40:54

Back when I was first training, we always recognised the post-surgical patient who sat up and said 'I could eat a horse' had clearly turned the corner and was on the road to recovery.

Appetite is controlled by a lot of factors - many more than we were taught about - but generally it's a good sign.  Post heart-transplant patients often report massively increased appetite, and those whose heart failure is getting better often say the same.  A better supply of oxygenated blood to your tissues may well produce an increased appetite.

Some drugs affect appetite too: glucorticoids (==steroids, like dexamethasone) increase appetite (although not all doctors seem to know this), some antidepressants cause increased appetite and major weight gain etc.

I'm sure you are right to be cautious about just eating more without increasing your physical activity level, so if your heart+lungs allow, do more and enjoy the food that supports it!

Self-interest note: I'm a live-to-eat person, and love food.  And exercise.

Appetite and that feeling of hunger

by Gemita - 2020-10-07 06:26:17

Deedo hello,

I can experience a hunger sensation in the “epigastric” area at the start of, or during a heart rhythm problem.  I sometimes feel the two problems are connected.  It almost feels as though my arrhythmia resides in my stomach, not in my heart, and by eating/swallowing liquids, I am often able to disperse this uncomfortable feeling and/or even stop my arrhythmia from starting/progressing. There is clearly a strong gastric/heart connection as you will see if you do any searches and this has been confirmed in some of my investigations.   So that is one thought if you suffer from an arrhythmia.

Sometimes during implant surgery, damage to nerves can occur, although thankfully this is fairly rare.  I am thinking here of the vagus nerve in particular which can affect appetite and digestion.  I would also consider the possibility of "pacing itself" causing a hunger sensation although no doubt you have had a check up since your implant procedure to confirm that all is working as it should ?   

Since my pacemaker I have also noticed an increase in appetite but I put this mainly down to feeling so much better with increased ability to exercise from my higher heart rates.  With increased expenditure of energy my appetite increases and I naturally get that hunger feeling more often.

I have noticed some slight weight gain since pacemaker implant but I feel this is due to my beta blocker which I have to take daily to prevent my Atrial Fibrillation from taking off at dangerously high rates, if not "firmly" controlled.  The beta blocker slows me down, causes tiredness and that hunger feeling at times, leading to weight gain.   Some beta blockers can definitely cause hunger and weight gain, as can other meds as crustyg has pointed out.   Are you on any rate control meds, or any other medication or has there been a change to your medication since your procedure ?  You have not given any medical history.

Specifically on your hunger feeling all the time, here are some tips which you probably already know about but might be helpful.

When I eat protein I am satisfied for longer.  I do not eat over refined foods or massive servings of carbohydrates which will quickly hit my blood stream but leave it equally as fast.  Also, if you can, increase your fibre by eating more bran, wholemeal bread/cereals, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, pulses like lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, which will keep you feeling satisfied for longer.  

Increase your healthy fats.  I love avocados, nuts (yes I know both are high in calories) but healthy fats will slow digestion and can help to reduce that hunger feeling, keeping you going longer.

Are you sleeping properly?  Lack of sleep can make us feel very hungry, very quickly.

Drinking more water which is good for us anyway, will help to keep us feeling satisfied.

Are you stressed over your implant ?  Stress will increase your stress hormones which can increase hunger.

Do you have a medical condition as the cause for your hunger like high blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia) or low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia);  gastric disease (like an ulcer) which may cause hunger and be relieved by eating?  A visit to your general doctor who can do a few blood checks might help to identify a cause or provide reassurance that all is well.  Finally is your gluten sensitivity being well controlled - maybe your requirements have changed?  Worth discussing all this with your doctor.




Thanks re: appetite

by Deedo - 2020-10-07 09:00:09

Thank you both, it helps to have another persons perspective and ideas about it.  I am on beta blockers but was taking them prior to the implant as well.  My hunger feels like I'm on steroids, which I've had to take many many times throughout my life due to being asthmatic, so it feels similar. I have suspected, but don't know for sure, that I must have been given a high dose of a steroid during my surgery.  My activity has increased as I have been having increased energy so I would agree that this is a combination of things that have created this "hunger"


I do have a very stressful job and with COVID my level of stress is pretty high, add in a diagnosis of CHF during the same emotions have been all over the place, I have been an emotional eater so this could be emotion based as well.


i guess I was more curious if anyone else had experienced this as well.  I appreciate the feedback and thoughts!  Thanks so much!

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