Pain and short of breath

Hi everyone. :)

I'm new to having a pacemaker, so I'm really glad I found this forum.

I'm a 30 year old female and just got my first ever pacemaker inserted 2 weeks ago. I had to get it due to me fainting out of nowhere one day and turns out I have 3rd degree heart block. 

The healing process has been rough. No one told me what's normal and not normal so I've been to the ER like 3 times so far only to be told everything is okay on both my EKG and pacemaker interrogation.

I had pretty heavy fluttering sensations all night where I could feel them on the bottom of my throat and it was very uncomfortable. All my tests looked fine though. Now I feel weak and out of breath, after walking a little bit I feel out of breath with a chest pain that goes to my back.

Did anyone else feel this way during the recovery period? I'm not sure if I'm being impatient by expecting to not feel much 2 weeks later. 

Thanks! :)



by AgentX86 - 2021-07-02 23:59:10

This is pretty normal.  Your heart has been through some bit of trauma and it has to settle down.  It also can take some time for the heart to get used to being paced.  PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) are very common after pacemaker implants and, I understand well, that they feel awful.  Long strings could certainly leave you breathless because PVCs don't allow the heart to completely fill, so the heart may not be pumping enough blood.

Another explanation is that your diaphragm is being paced.  This, also, is common and is usually caused by a misplaced lead.  It's common but not normal and needs to be fixed.  This can be uncomfortable but shouldn't cause you to be weak or short of breath.

If they sent you home with a monitor, the next time it happens push the button to send a record of what's happening right then.  They'll be able to figure it out very quickly (minutes), 

PVCs aren't serious at all unless they constitute a large percentage of heartbeats (something like 30%). Everyone throws PVCs from time to time, though most don't notice a single PVC.  Those who do, shrug them off because by the time they're felt, they're gone.  On the other hand, if you're short of breath or have any pressing pain, it has to be fixed quickly.  Catching whatever is going on in the act makes the diagnosis much easier (and tells the doctors that you aren't crazy).

welcome to the club from another 30 y/o noob!

by chrysotile - 2021-07-03 03:51:46


Def feel you on the healing process being something really new to grapple with. Gonna second x86 on the fluttering feelings possibly being pvcs, I've got one of those kardia phone ekgs and only after my implantation did I start having them, tho no more than a few per minute and mostly at night (real obv when its set up hand-ankle for lead II readings). From what I've heard unless they're happening constantly pvcs aren't something to be too worried about.

I'm a bit over two weeks post-surgery too and earlier on I had some of that chest-to-back pain, on and off but its passed by now. Between that and the out of breath thing (didn't have that) I'd highly suggest calling up your EP and letting them know what's up. ime ER's can be good for generalist stuff, but until they can get a better picture of what's going on if you're seemingly "ok" in the moment and their tests don't turn up anything concerning they'll usually just shoo you off.

Hope they can find some better answers and get you feeling better, stay safe!

First pacer at 29 for heart block-I had the fluttering

by asully - 2021-07-10 02:51:27

I know the feeling you are describing like a tiny bird flapping in your neck veins.  I had this same feeling often after my first device (I also would feel it in my chest).  I did not have a kardia device at the time but I would bet money AgentX is right about PVCs or even PACs.  For me it felt like every once in a while my heart would try to jump in and do it's own thing but it was out of sync.  I too had a number of ER visits due to anxiety over all the new sensations, don't be embarrassed about that.  Once I discovered this club I found that many of the little things I was nervous about were very normal.

Edited to add:

My first device ended up being swapped out a year later for dysynchrony, it was a single chamber to start then they added an atrial lead.  This improved the palpitations, shortness of breath, and my ejection fraction improved a ton afterwards.  If you have only a single chamber this may be worth asking about.

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It may be the first time we've felt a normal heart rhythm in a long time, so of course it seems too fast and too strong.