Feeling pacemaker?

Hi everyone, 

I'm 19 and just had my pacemaker implanted on April 16 after a positive tilt table test and a diagnosis of vasovagal syncope I think. My EP was really split on whether or not I should get the pacemaker because of my age and since I've had very few episodes, but my heart rate was practically 0 for about 15 seconds during the test and I didn't have any obvious triggers to when I've passed out in the past. After talking to my family and weighing my options I thought I'd just go ahead and take the safe route by getting the pacemaker  

Healing has been perfectly fine so far. I've had some soreness but honestly taking off the dressings and Steri-strips hurt the most. However, I've felt my pacemaker pacing multiple times and it's not painful but just uncomfortable. I can feel my heart rate speed up quickly, which I expected and know I'll just get used to, but sometimes I can also feel a sensation in my chest. It's almost like a throbbing or ticking normally in beats of four whenever I feel my heart rate shoot up. It's around the middle of my chest and sometimes faint but other times I can't ignore it. Is this the pacemaker itself? I haven't mentioned it to my EP yet because every visit with him is just extremely quick and to the point and although he is usually helpful, he can also be hard to get a hold of and difficult to understand. I just wanted to know if anyone else has experienced anything like this. This is my first time posting but I've been reading these forums for a little while and it's definitely made me much more optimistic about living with a pacemaker. However, this one symptom is kind of worrying me just because I didn't expect it and can't find much on it. 


5 Comments

Feeling symptoms of pacing or irregular heart rhythms

by Gemita - 2021-04-28 09:01:43

Hello Gill,

I am assuming your doctors felt that a pacemaker would definitely help your vasovagal syncope and that other treatments were tried before your pacemaker was implanted.  Very rarely, inserting an electrical pacemaker to regulate the heartbeat may help some people with vasovagal syncope who haven't been helped by other treatments.

I also suffer from vasovagal syncope, more specifically swallow syncope.  This causes a sudden drop in blood pressure and may also trigger my arrhythmias, affecting heart rate too.  My main reason for my pacemaker was tachy/brady syndrome, part of the sick sinus syndrome.  My doctors were unclear whether my vasovagal syncope would be helped by a pacemaker, so held off as long as they could.  However my tachy/brady syndrome definitely is helped as well as the pausing I was getting.  Unfortunately nothing can be done by the pacemaker about a blood pressure fall which occurs during a vasovagal syncope event, so you may still get some dizziness/pre-syncope I am afraid.  I still do.  But with a heart rate of 0 for 15 seconds, you definitely needed that pacemaker.

Specifically your question about feeling your heart rhythm speeding and slowing and all those strange sensations.  This happened to me when I first had my pacemaker and can be quite normal as the heart settles down to being paced, but if you have any home monitoring I would send a transmission to your pacemaker clinic for them to check what might be happening, just to be safe.  They can give you a proper diagnosis and hopefully put your mind at rest.  I did develop a few additional heart rhythm problems around the time of my pacemaker implant but these settled over a few months.

I wish you well

welcome!

by Tracey_E - 2021-04-28 09:10:58

First thought, don't question that you needed it. 15 seconds is a loooooooong pause and dangerous. That they would even consider age is one of my pet peeves no age is good to have a pause that long. My doctors waited because of my age also, I suffered for years when I could have been feeling good all that time. 

I would mention it at your next apointment for sure, but they usually adjust the settings after 4-6 weeks once we've healed and the body has had a chance to get used to being paced. The feeling will probably go away after that. 

irregular heart rhythms

by Loretta - 2021-04-28 13:35:38

Hi ,I am three months into my new pacer (SSS).

I had/have irregular beats since the pacer implant.  On my first few visits the nurse adjusted my pacer with no luck,on the third visit she turned off the rate response and I was a lot better. However I still feel my pvcs ,very strong, and she actually caught pac when I was in her office.

To this day they drive me nuts, freak me out ,and after many calls and pacer transmissions my pm nurse stated I was fine ,so I try not to worry. Ya right! 

The pacer nurse will become your bestfriend until the heart and you get used to the pacer. Fyi, three months into it , I am still getting used to it. 

Hang in there ,it does get better.

Syncope

by AgentX86 - 2021-04-28 14:48:11

Welcome to the group.  It sounds like things are going very well for you and I'm sure they'll get even better in short order.

As others have said, 15-seconds is very dangerous.  The odds of going from five to ten seconds are about the same as going from ten to twenty, which are...  Well, pretty soon it's ...to forever.

Even short periods of syncope are life threatening (top of a set of stairs, driving, etc.) to both you and quite possibly those around you.  It's good that you found a solution.  I hope it covers the whole deal.

It sounds like you have some sort of arrhythmia going on.  Exactly four beats sounds like a string of PVCs or some such.  It's highly unlikely that they're dangerous in any way but annoying?  Yes, that I understand completely.  If this is what you're feeling, it should settle down in fairly short order.  In the mean time, make sure you're well hydrated and that your trace metals (sodium, potassium, and magnesium) are good.  Any one, too high or too low, can cause all sorts of heart (any/all muscles, really) problems.

I was short on magnesium.  As soon as I started taking magnesium suppliments (suggested by my cardiologist) my PVCs all but dissappeared and my leg cramps went away immediately.  Make sure that you don't come up short here.

In any case, try to capture this event on the remote box so that your doctors can get to the bottom of your issues.

Thanks!

by gillcatdec - 2021-04-30 01:35:47

Thank you guys for the responses. My next appointment is after my exams in about two weeks so I'll definitely speak to my doctor, but everything else has been going really well so it probably is just nothing. I've never heard of PVCs or most other medical complications or occurrences associated with a pacemaker until coming here but I'll check it out. Again, thank you guys for the comments and reassurance! I'm so glad I found this site. 

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