Pacemaker and weightlifting question. I’m lost. Let’s settle this question once in for all.

I have been lifting weights for one year and this lifestyle has saved my life from my severe mental health. Unfortunately I learned not too long ago that I have an AV block, not severe but I'm recommended to have a pacemaker implantation.  I can do any exercise like anybody else have and I don't have any symptoms. I search online about weightlifting with a pacemaker and I get mixed answers and information, although I have come across a man who is a serious weightlifter and has an ICD, as well as a woman who competes, but I don't know if they have a special intrucror or how they can achieve such a body with a pacemaker/ICD.  I know that everyone must confirm with their Doctor first and this is not medical advice, but I'm very curious in hearing from people. My general question is, is a person able to continue to lift weights with a pacemaker or are there significant restrictions in the amount of weight lifted?  I already stopped doing all chest exercises and shoulder exercises where I would lift my arms above my shoulders, so I won't be doing any of those exercises, and I like to lift heavy but not extremely heavy amounts of weight like bodybuilders. What should I expect? 


7 Comments

Weight lifting

by Old male - 2021-10-26 22:06:34

My personal experience and certainly not intended to be advice.  Follow doctors recommendations.  I have been athletic active and a gym member for most of the past 60 years.  Heavy resistance settings on machines or free weights ended long ago.  I still do chest and shoulder exercises just less weight.  Now I'm happy to be mobile, flexible and mostly pain free.  First ICD implant 7 years ago.  #1 advice was to allow 4-6 weeks for the leads to attach to tissue and avoid raising arm above shoulder level on implant side during this time.  It was explained to me that a loop in the lead is left where connects to device to allow for normal range of motion.   Again, ask your Cardiologist.  Your record setting days should be over but you can still look and be fit.  Good luck. 

 

weightlifting

by Tracey_E - 2021-10-26 22:28:22

Unfortunately there is no one short answer.

There are some doctors who are very conservative and limit their patients.

There are some patients who have the device placed such that they need to be careful with front rack and very heavy bench pressing because the box or leads are at risk of being crushed.

And there are a whole lot of us like me who have no restrictions, who do what we want and don't worry about it, who have the box placed so that it isn't in any danger when we are active. I have done Crossfit for 10 years now, been paced 25+. I'll never compete or keep up with the big kids, I would say I'm middle of the pack for the women in class. I can press triple digits and deadlift my bodyweight. I also do push ups, pull ups and probably just about anything else you may have read that we should avoid. My doctor knows what I do and encourages it. Being fit is the best thing we can do for ourselves. 

The most important thing is that your doctor knows your lifestyle before your surgery so they can place it so that you can continue to do what you like once you heal.

You'll see discussions about rate response and which is best for athletes, but with heart block it's unlikely you will be using rate response so don't stress over that. Heart block is the easiest condition to fix with a pacer. Our own sinus node works normally and sets the pace, all the pacer has to do is play follow the leader and make sure the ventricles stay in sync with the atria. As heart problems go, we have a good one. 

old male is correct, they generally leave slack at the end of the lead where it connects to the box so our arm movement doesn't affect the lead in the heart. The leads are strong and flexible, intended to move with us. 

I read recently that athletes should have their leads placed in the cephalic vein rather than subclavian so there is less chance of pulling with vigorous movement. 

Weight lifting

by AgentX86 - 2021-10-26 22:38:31

Traceyhas it right.  Ask your EP.  Only he knows your situation.  My EP is one of Tracey's "very conservative" EPs.  It's probably because I'm dependent.  He doesn't care about lifting but doesn't want me to do presses with free-weights.  Machines are fine.  The problem is the bar crushing a lead against the clavicle.  He has some weight limit, too, but being uninterested in weight lifting I didn't pay much attention. I do some serious walking which isn't too  tough on my PM. ;-)

More questions than answers

by Gemita - 2021-10-27 00:14:54

Oscar, your questions have been well covered so far on weightlifting.  In my opinion I think you are getting slightly ahead of yourself since you say a pacemaker is only “recommended”.  I would be inclined to focus first on whether you really need a pacemaker and to try to establish the cause for your sudden AV Block which you say is not severe following a year of weight lifting.  It could be that you won’t need a pacemaker, just a small change in lifestyle or medication, or something else to address the problem?  

You say you do not have any symptoms and that you can exercise.  You have searched online and read about patients with a pacemaker/ICD.  Have you been told you need an ICD?  If not your online searches so far have perhaps been inappropriate for you personally?

The other question is, why have you already stopped raising your arm above your shoulders and stopped doing all chest exercises when you don’t yet have a pacemaker?  Have you been told not to raise your arm above your shoulder for example because of your newly diagnosed heart condition or perhaps because of an injury?   Disuse of your arms may quickly lead to shoulder problems, so I would question your need to avoid raising your arms?

I do not believe we can settle your question once and for all with the information you have provided and I am not surprised that you feel lost.   Let us hope that you will not need a pacemaker, but if you do, that you can work with a cardiac physiotherapist who can find a level of weightlifting exercises that you can safely enjoy.  

OMG

by ROBO Pop - 2021-10-28 20:40:43

Thank you, thank you, thank you ! I have been on this site for years, almost as many as TraceyE and can assure you there has never been an issue/ question settled once and for all, even when the znswer is cut and dry fact. But thanks again for the laugh, I needed it

WEIGHT TRAINING

by PacerLee - 2021-10-29 01:00:33

I'VE LIFTED WEIGHTS FOR 30 YRS NOT COMPETIVELY JUST FOR SHAPE. 

I ALSO RIDE A BIKE,  I'M ATHLETIC. MY WORKOUTS TODAY ARE DIFFERENT I NO LONGER LIFT WEAVY WEIGHTS INSTEAD I DO REPETITIONS WITH LIGHTER WEIGHTS.  I'M VERY CAREFUL MY PM IS CONNECTED TO THE UPPER AND LOWER CHAMBER NODES.  HEAVY WEIGHTS  AND  MUSCLE GROWTH CAN DISLODGE THEM THUS REQUIRING SURGERY TO RECONNECT.  

ITS IMPORTANT NOT TO GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO MAKE THE PROPER ADJUSTMENTS.  IT'S ALSO  VERY IMPORTANT TO ALLOW YOURSELF PLENTY TIME TO HEAL .   BEFORE YOU KNOW IT YOU WILL BE HAPPY DOING WHAT YOU LIKE ...WEIGHT LIFTING. 

PS LISTEN TO YOU DOCTOR AND FOLLOW HIS SUGGESTIONS THEY HAVE LOTS OF EXPERIENCE. 

 

Weight training

by MobileDiver - 2021-10-31 06:27:20

What Tracy said. Consult your doc, but more than likely after you heal you can lift. I lift regularly with no issues and have a pacemaker/defibrillator.

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