Silly worries

I think I will be coming here every time a question or concern comes to mind, so sorry if you get sick of hearing from me! Just wondering: Has anyone here actually experienced PM leads coming loose? I am a little over a week out from surgery, and that has been stressed more than anything else...Don't raise your arm or they'll come loose...Don't carry heavy items or they'll come loose...I have forgetful moments when I do something I probably shouldn't, and then I panic. How common is that? How would I know? How serious is it? This afternoon I struggled to get a sealed lid off a container, strained a bit & felt a twinge in the left side of my back. Loose lead or pulled muscle? Silly, I know, but I could use some reassurance! 


Don't worry. Be happy.

by AgentX86 - 2021-02-05 20:59:01

There is an exceedingly small chance of pulling your leads out.  There is slack in the leads to allow the shoulder to move.  In the first few weeks, until everything heals completely, there is a possibility of damage but it's very rare.  You need to keep using that shoulder but try to live within the guidelines.  We all forgot and raised our arm or reached for something, then rememered (S**#). 

Leads sometimes don't attach properly and need to be replaced. Because of advancements in lead technology even this is very unusual. 

The bottom line is that you're very unlikely to do any damage but it's a good idea to make sure.  Do keep using that arm normally, and try to keep within the restrictions.

Thanks, I needed that!

by TLee - 2021-02-05 22:01:01

Like I said, just that little reassurance, and I'm (almost) happy. I have found that, since the pain at the insertion site has nearly gone, it is much easier to be positive. It hurt a lot worse than I'd imagined at first, and there was a whole lot of "poor me" and "what have I done?" going on. The pain was noticeably less after about day 4, and now, a little more than a week on, it is just a little sore & itchy. As long as everything holds together, I'm good!

What have I done?

by AgentX86 - 2021-02-05 23:49:36

It sounds like you're doing really well.  It's certainly not unusual to have a little self doubt if not some amount of depression but it sounds like you've gotten by most of that.  I had no problems at all and very little pain but itchy!  Wow!  That's one sensation that I simply can't stand.  I'll scratch an itch until it bleeds.  Then the itch turns to pain and I can deal with it. 

When I had my CABG surgery my whole chest itched.  One morning I was really worried about all the blood on the sheets.  Then I looked at my chest.  It looked like the cat got really pissed.

we all do that

by Tracey_E - 2021-02-06 10:25:26

Once you get past 24-48 hours, the odds of pulling a lead loose go way down. We all lift too much, forget and reach overhead. Don't lift anything heavy or reach overhead, other than those exceptions it's important to use the arm normally so your shoulder doesn't freeze up.

There was a study of patients given no restrictions. They had the same incident of lead dislodgement as ones given traditional restrictions. I've seen my own ep go from 6 weeks to 2 weeks of restrictions post op. 

Loose leads

by Theknotguy - 2021-02-06 10:26:02

Your question came up a few years back on the forum.  There had been problems reported by members about leads coming loose mainly because they hadn't been inserted properly.  Discussion was that you'd probably have to be in a very serious car accident to pull the leads loose in which case you'd have other problems than just loose leads. Most of the problems we were hearing were because the leads hadn't been implanted correctly. So you'd be at home not doing anything and the leads would come loose.  But I haven't seen too much discussion about that on the forum recently.  

The only other case I've heard of was the security guard at the hospital where I had my pacemaker implanted.  He was into lifting weights and was bench pressing 300 pound weights.  That broke a lead and he had to have it replaced.  He also indicated he knew he was pushing the envelope with the weights he was lifting.  Notice he broke the lead but didn't have it come loose.  So it really takes a lot to pull a lead loose.  

As AgentX86 said, they are a lot better at making sure the leads are implanted correctly so the chance of them coming loose on their own is very remote now too.  

There is a lot of mis-information out there that gets repeated over and over.  It's really hard for a person with a newly implanted pacemaker to determine which is a bona-fide warning and which is just repeated bad information.  I had a heart rehab person at the hospital tell me there was a life time 47 pound lifting weight limit on the arm on the same side as the pacemaker.  Asked her where that info came from and she couldn't tell me.  I've been moving 55 pound 4x8 sheets for seven years now with absolutely no problems. I'm sure someone will tell me I've gotten away with it until now and I may break the leads the next time I move a sheet but I don't see any reason to change my habits or activities.  

The period of concern about your pacemaker being reliable is common.  I think it was nine months before I finally got out of the car and walked across the parking lot without thinking about my pacemaker.  Then I had several more months of "testing" it to see if it was reliable. I know there was a store security system that was going off every time someone would look at a piece of clothing.  Told my spouse to watch as I walked through the security system to see if either it or my pacemaker would react.  No problems.  After that I quit being concerned and just went on with my life not worrying about the pacemaker.  

I hope your adjustment to your pacemaker continues to go well.  

Everyday that passes, the leads are in better, tighter

by Gotrhythm - 2021-02-06 15:40:08

You've already had good answers from everyone else. All I want to add is that with every day that passes, the chance (never large) that the leads will dislodge goes down. Eventually, it goes to zero.

Why? Well, just like you can see that the surgical wound is already closing and starting to scar over, scar tissue is forming around the leads, and scar tissue is what actually holds them in place for the long haul. Eventually, there's so much scar tissue that the leads become very difficult to take out, even if you want to.

Getting a pacemaker is a novel experience for most people. You've never been in this predicament before, and likely never known much about it. It's normal to have questions, and also to be unsure about which concerns are trivial and which are very serious.

For some people it takes a while to establish a new emotional balance, but most people come to the place where they can say, I have a pacemaker, and everything's okay.

Do use your left arm enough to keep the shoulder flexible. Don't stress about leads.

You know you're wired when...

You can proudly say you’re energy efficient.

Member Quotes

I finished 29th in London in 2 hours 20 minutes 30 seconds which is my fastest with or without a device so clearly it didn’t slow me down ! I had no problems apart from some slight chaffing on my scar - more Vaseline next time.