Difficulty Breathing


I am 3 1/2 weeks out from receiving a dual chamber pacemaker because of sick sinus syndrome at 44 years old.  I had a few adjustments to my pacemaker including rate response turned on and I was feeling pretty good.  Went back to work last week Wednesday and thought I was over the worst of it and feeling like myself.  I am now experiencing difficulty breathing when I do any kind of movement.  Even walking is taxing and my breathing becomes labored.  It's really scaring me because it started happening over the weekend and is getting worse.  Could this be caused by the pacemaker or could this be something else?  


Difficulty breathing

by SteveV - 2021-02-21 23:42:00

Hi Amy

Im a newby to the forum as well as to the world of Pace Makers but I will tell you that I to was having some issues breathing a few weeks after my PM was installed. After I went for my 1 month check up things definitely improved.  It sounds like you kind of went through the same experience but now something Isnt right..  My advice would be to get back into your dr s office as soon as possible. Maybe you need some more tweaking or maybe something happened with the leads or something else all together. Whatever it is have it addressed as quickly as possible.

Good luck

This is something new

by Terry - 2021-02-21 23:48:41

It's Sunday, and I would head for the ER to be checked out.


by Gemita - 2021-02-22 04:05:34

Dear Amy,

May I ask a couple of questions?  Do you only feel out of breath on movement or have you noticed this happen also when at rest ?  If it only happens on movement I would respectfully go back to your pacemaker doctors/technicians and enquire whether a further settings change might help.   You could specifically ask whether Rate Response ‘activity sensor’ is set appropriately for you ?  Explain it only happens on movement.

If on the other hand you also notice breathlessness at rest I would consider returning promptly to your general doctor or cardiologist/EP for some further investigations.   There could be a lot going on since many health conditions can lead to breathlessness, some more serious than others and breathlessness can be a warning sign that you need help quickly.

I got breathless after my implant, especially when I tried climbing stairs.  I also have SSS and initially my Rate Response wasn’t turned on.  They made a few adjustments and now the only time I get breathless is when I am in AF (Atrial Fibrillation) or another tachy arrhythmia.   Do you have a fast arrhythmia?  I presume your slow arrhythmia - bradycardia/pausing, the reason for your pacemaker - is adequately controlled by your pacemaker but it might be worth asking them about this and whether further settings, apart from Rate Response, might need adjusting too?  

They may want to carry out some further monitoring (an event monitor) to look for a new arrhythmia that may have developed, perhaps only temporarily, following your implant.  A tachy arrhythmia can certainly trigger breathlessness and the pacemaker cannot stop a high heart rate.

Amy, whatever you do, please try to stay calm.  Hopefully it will just come down to a Setting adjustment, or two, but I would seek advice as soon as possible just to be safe.  I do wish you all the very best

I feel you!

by TLee - 2021-02-23 16:26:15

I should start by saying that I have atrial fibrulation (according to monitoring) 13% of the time overall, along with SSS, I think--funny story, my doctor "dumbed down" his description of my condition, saying that my heart just gets confused when trying to find sinus rhythm. I saw the diagnosis of SSS on one of my charts & looked it up. **Side note to anyone who might know: could this have been caused by ablation, as I did not have  this particular set of symtoms until after that procedure (???)

I have made several posts to this forum because of concerns that my afib symptoms are actually quite a bit worse--including shortness of breath--since I got my pm a month ago. I am hoping that adjustments to the pm along with more effective treatment for the afib will correct this, but it is very discouraging. You do not say that you have any other arrhythmia, which is very interesting to me since you describe symptoms similar to mine. I would be interested in hearing what you find out about your situation. I do believe that healing and adapting takes time, so I am not terribly worried, and I don't think you need to be either. Do keep us posted on how you are doing, and best wishes!


by Gemita - 2021-02-24 04:44:24

Ablation, yes I know of several members and non members who developed SSS (predominantly bradyarrhythmias) following an ablation for fast AF.  This can happen for several reasons, two of which are:

1 Following an ablation another arrhythmia can often surface (it may have always been there but hidden) and then comes to light following the ablation procedure.  I am particularly referring here to Atrial Flutter that can often surface following a successful ablation for AF.

2. Any trauma can trigger an arrhythmia, particularly AF, either temporarily or more persistently.  And an ablation procedure is most definitely a trauma for the heart and why our EP's generally recommend that we allow at least 3-6 months of healing afterwards (called the blanking period - and for some it can be even longer).  Unfortunately in some difficult cases, an ablation could even worsen an arrhythmia, even in the safest hands.  This is what I was told when I was considering an ablation.  I have to say it caused me great concern at the time and was the reason why I cancelled my planned ablation two years ago.  Of course many have successful ablations and never look back!

But SSS (tachy/brady syndrome), AF and other arrhythmias of course can also often occur as part of the normal ageing process or as a result of many other health conditions, so there isn't always one quick fix or reason why we develop a condition like SSS 


by StephBenn - 2021-03-03 11:25:09

Hi Amy, I'm a fairly new pacemaker owner myself. 53 and I've tried to stay fit and healthy, but had SSS for a long time and didn't know it. 
I just had my 3 month checkup yesterday and things were ok. I'm always asked 'Do you feel better?' And I say no, because I didn't feel bad, per se.

A couple of weeks after mine was inserted last December, I went to emergency because I felt an awful 'pulse'in my throat that case serious discomfort. They couldn't figure anything out. I also had a 'flutter' sensation that makes me cough. I still do sometimes and I kind of lose my breath. They had to make some adjustments and said it was when it was pacing in my lower chamber. IDK. Keep track of everything and then tell your cardiologist at your appointments. Mine tells me everything is fine, but I was a nervous wreck about loose leads for the first 2 months. Muscles and nerves all around it getting used to the thing takes a while. I'm back to full activity, working out, cardio, lifting, snorkeling and snowshoeing. 
good luck with your new 'normal':)

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