Running with a Pacemaker

It has been suggested by my physician that I should seriously consider a pacemaker as I have the onset of Sick Sinus Syndrome. It's not critical at this stage but it could progressively get worse in the months or years ahead.

I am a 75 year old avid runner and have noticed that during my run my heart skips beats every few seconds which makes it very difficult to keep my energy level up.

I live in Canada and sometimes the new technology takes it's time to work it's way up here.

Are all pacemakers adjustable so that they will fire when your heart rate is high during exercise? One doctor I talked to said the pacemaker will only trigger at low heart rates. The only resaon I would consider a pacemaker at this stage is if it will allow me to exercise without getting fatigued so early.


Thank you.


Sick Sinus Syndrome and Running

by IAN MC - 2021-05-09 12:41:27

Hi Silverfox  

SSS has the nasty habit of gettting worse over time  so you need to reflect on what this could mean.  At the moment it sounds as though you are having spells of bradycardia ( low heart rate  ) accompanied by short cardiac pauses.  If and when the pauses become longer you will probably faint ...... which is no fun if you happen to be driving at the time or are at the top of a flight of stairs. ' When" is probably more likely than  "If "

I was lucky, The first ( and only ) time I fainted was just after I had  completed a 10 mile running event. I agreed to have a pacemaker 2 days later , with a diagnosis of SSS.

Facts about pacemakers :-

- their primary function is to stop your heart-rate from falling too low. They trigger heart-beats at a pre-determined  lower level. In my case it is set at 55 bpm.

- all pacemakers ( even in Canada ) have a feature known as Rate Response which is only switched on if you need it.  If it is switched on it stops your HR from remaining too low when you are exercising.  When you run, you need more oxygen or you get breathless so you need a higher HR . 

Different makes of PM have different types of sensors for detecting when you are exercising. They only trigger off heart-beats if yout heart is not naturally responding to exercise.

It sounds to me that it is HIGHLY LIKELY that you need a pacemaker now ....  but you need to listen to your doctors...only they have all the facts about your underlying heart condition.

Having a pacemaker is really no big deal . I have had one for 10 yrs and am still an active member of my running club as well as being a keen golf and tennis player.  In my case, the potential downsides of not having one make it a no-brainer .... maybe that applies to you too . Listen to your doctors !

Best of luck


P.S.  Although I live in the UK , I once attempted to run in Canada  ( sister lives there ) . I found the swarms of mosquitoes around Lake Winnipeg a much bigger problem than my pacemaker !

They are adjustable to exercise

by PacedNRunning - 2021-05-12 04:21:16

They are adjustable to exercise. Takes some tweaking. If you just need it for bradycardia you'll be fine. It won't assist you while running. Only watch you. If you need assistance with running it can help with that also. Takes a lot of time to tweak it tolerable. Took me a good 4 mos and another 5 mos of small tweaks to get it near perfect. Lots of patience from you, the doctors and the tech rep. They Aren't use to us active people. But pacemaker are more for keeping you safe. 

You know you're wired when...

Your pacemaker receives radio frequencies.

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Today I explained everything to my doctor, he set my lower rate back to 80 and I felt an immediate improvement.