What are some ways that someone with 3rd degree heart block can lower their resting heart rate without over the top exercise?

So I used to be a frequent runner and worked out a lot until I got sudden 3rd degree block almost 3 months ago now and got an emergency St. Jude pacemaker inserted. 

Before all this I had a resting heart rate of about 65. Now it goes as high as about 90. But generally between 78-90s. 
I haven't worked out much except for walking since my treadmill stress test determined that for now I can't really let myself go higher than 170bpm or I'll feel awful.

I'm doing my best to eat as healthy as I can now, but I know my body really needs to exercise again. What are some workouts that have helped you that are easy on the heart? Does anyone know if yoga would help? If it helps, I'm 5'4 and 118 pounds. 

Thanks! You're all amazing :)


Need to tease this apart...

by crustyg - 2021-09-06 17:29:21

For someone with no PM, a low resting heart rate is usually a sign of an athletic, healthy heart - although the rate at which your HR drops post vigorous exercise is probably a more reliable marker.

But for folk with a PM, your lowest resting HR is controlled by the box in your chest - the clue is in the name - Pacemaker.  Do you know what your PM has been programmed to keep you from falling below?  And even at your tender age, a peak HR of 170BPM is probably not far off a sensible maximum.  Most athletic youngsters that I know who have good quality HR data don't spend much time >180BPM.  The fit, athletic heart increases cardiac output almost as much by increasing stroke volume as it does by increasing stroke rate - because heart muscle can only receive blood supply when relaxed: therefore increased HR means increased need for heart blood supply and reduced blood supply => vicious circle.  But bigger starting volumes (increased ventricular filling volume from the atria) and more complete contraction (increased %LVEF) are much better at getting oxygenated blood to the muscles that need it than simply increasing HR.

I wonder if your lower rate limit is 70BPM?  Are your atria contracting normally?  No AFlut?

Need more information.

Diet and walking has worked for me.

by Stache - 2021-09-06 22:29:45

I have 3rd-degree heart block and a dual-chamber PM now.  Before my heart rate was 30 bpm and 23 bpm at night sleeping.  I walk 60-minutes every morning and 6-months ago I vapor-locked two stents and dual-chamber PM.  I am back to walking 60-min every morning and riding my bicycle as much as possible 10 to 30-miles at a time.  Between walking and biking, I am stable now at a constant 60 bpm and bp is back to normal.  I check BP, weight, and O2 twice a day that i  record.  I have changed my diet a lot and strictly stick with it.  It's no secret it is routine every day without cheating.


by AgentX86 - 2021-09-06 23:09:03

It's probably not going to be your thing but walking has done me a world of good.  I do a *lot*, should say, did a lot before a traffic accident put me on the sidelines for a couple of months.  I went out today for the first time and only managed four miles but it's a good start back.  I don't get a high heart rate but I'm limited to 130bpm anyway,

Walking has dropped my LDL and increased my HDL (75/75) and shed pounds perhaps a bit more. I do consume significant carbs but no one is perfect.  ;-)

running and keeping the rate down

by Tracey_E - 2021-09-14 10:30:23

I've struggled a lot with running, my rate gets too high too quickly. My doctor isn't worried about it but when it gets over 160-170, I get gassed quickly and I have to stop and walk. 

I've been working with a running coach that has enough medical background to understand my heart challenges since January. It's been a game changer. She slowed me down. WAY down. The first week she had me walk/run at slowly increasing paces so she could guage how much effort got my rate up how high. She figured out which pace I stay about 150. That pace is a ridiculously slow shuffle that is technically a run but I swear I can walk faster. So that's where she started me, super slow shuffle with rate at 150, then walk to bring rate back down. We slowly increased the shuffle interval but kept the long walks to bring my rate down, then switched to working on decreasing the walk time.

Long process and kind of frustrating sometimes when everyone else is going faster than me, but it really works. My rate doesn't get as high as it used to on the same exertion, and it comes down much more quickly than it did. I'm doing the same miles I was before (20-25/week) but I'm not working nearly as hard. And when I started I was in good shape. I could do a half and was doing Crossfit 5/week and my doctor was thrilled with my stress test. Now I'm in better shape, cardiac-wise. Long way of saying, there are ways to train your heart to stay down. It takes time, but it can be done.

I got myself a shirt that says Sloth Running Team, we'll get there when we get there. 

your copy of the report

by dwelch - 2021-09-14 12:43:56

next time you go in for an interrogation ask for your copy of the report, they may just give you a full one or a summary or maybe say you cant have it but you can.  have them print it and then you can talk to the doc about getting it.

on it among other things your low and high rate settings.  

you need to know what your minimum rate is so that you beat up on yourself to get the rate lower when it will never go that low (so long as the device is working properly).

Also how are you measuring this. a FULL MINUTE using a clock or stopwatch yes?  not using some smart watch or other device yes?  now the infra red finger cuffs will work, cost like $15, these do not work on electrical signals.  other than that, full minute, no cheatingf against a time reference.   Later you can decide relative to an infra red finger cuff if any of your electrical devices work, as not all if any are expected to work with pacemakers....some do some dont sometimes it depends on the person or pacer or settings.

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