Lead Issue

I received a call from the Heart Center about 15 minutes after I completed my 3 month remote transmission this morning. The nurse said the Lead to the lower chamber of my heart is using more battery than it should. I was told in my last in-clinic device check there was an issue with that lead and some adjustments were made to hopefully help it. I'm scheduled to go in tomorrow for further adjustments to possibly help and therefore prolong the time that the lead will need to be replaced. The nurse said they will try to prolong it until I need a new pacemaker as well. But if that can't be done, it looks like the lead will need to be replaced, which is very scary to me. She said I'm pacing at less than 1% with this lead and my lower chamber and I'm pacing at an average of 13% with the upper chamber. She said I have about 17 months left on the battery and this is surprising to me since I don't pace much and I've had the pacemaker for just a little over six years. I appreciate hearing any others' experiences with this that can help me with the anxiety. Thanks everyone!


3 Comments

Lots of folk here who've had to have a pacing lead replaced

by crustyg - 2021-06-21 16:35:21

And sometimes the PM guzzles through the battery before the lead can be replaced.

Ask about how many pacing lead extractions they do, and their success rates.  Done in a big center with a lot of practice, it's a pretty low-risk process, but it does require very special equipment and an operator with a lot of experience.

You should try hard to make sure that they don't just cut and cap the old, defective lead.

Best wishes.

Lead replacement

by AgentX86 - 2021-06-21 23:29:05

At this point, I'd be very surprised if they replaced the lead before the PM runs out of juice.  7-1/2 years isn't too bad and two surgeries seems to be pointless.

 

leads going bad

by Tracey_E - 2021-06-22 10:18:28

Been there! The analogy they gave me was leaving the window open but running the air conditioner. The house still cools but the power bill goes up. If the lead is starting to show wear or have ruptured insulation or too much scar tissue- whatever is causing it to wear- they can crank up the power to keep it working. This shortens the battery life. Unless the lead completely fails and you are dependent on it, they'll patch it up (like it sounds like they've already done) and let it go until the battery is ready to be replaced, then fix the lead and replace the device at the same time. 

There are multiple options for the lead. They can add a new one and cap off the bad one, or remove it all and start fresh. There are pros and cons to both. I had room for another lead so when this happened to me, I chose to add a new one. That was in 2010. My other original lead is still going strong and the broken one is in there, capped off and not causing any trouble. I'm out of room so next time one goes bad, I'll be looking at extraction.

10 years ago extraction was high risk. The lasers they use have come a long way, and the number of highly experienced doctors has gone up so it's still serious but no longer considered particularly risky. Discuss your options with your doctor. 

I'm on my 5th device. My average battery life has been 6-7 years. How much you pace doesn't figure into it as much as you think it would. It's more about the extra features we use, the safety margins, the condition of the leads, how our heart responds to pacing. 6-7 years isn't bad at all. That said, the newer ones use a different type of battery so 10+ is getting more common so your next one should last a lot longer. 

Getting a new one can be good news. We get the latest technology. My current one is light years ahead of what my first one could do, and replacements are easy. I may be in the minority, but I don't ever see needing a new one as a bad thing. 

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I am 100% pacemaker dependant and have been all my life. I try not to think about how a little metal box keeps me alive - it would drive me crazy. So I lead a very active life.