New Member

I had no warning of needing a pacemaker other than knowing my pulse wasn't right most of the time for the past few months.  I was a fool for not going to get checked out sooner.  My abnormally slow pulse was discovered when I went to get treated for a blood clot.  I don't know if the clot is related to the cardiac block, but I guess it doesn't matter now.  I'm grateful for this device, and it's working well so far.  What I can't get over is that my poor choices, weight, and lack of exercise caused this frightening thing that I never anticipated facing.  I'm feeling a mixture of guilt and relief.  One of my parents had some abnormal heartbeat issues, but I can't help blaming myself almost 100%.


Our fault

by Old male - 2021-11-28 22:40:07

Yes, most of us are guilty of some form of bodily abuse, neglect, etc.  It often takes a close call or some event to get our attention.   We can't change the past but can certainly control much of the future.  Get involved with a local support group if possible and follow doctors recommendations.   Be patient and don't go overboard to start with.  I've exercised most of my life and believe a recommended weight loss of 1 - 2 pounds weekly max is good.  Have seen many people try and do too much too fast and most abandon the effort in a few months.   You have to think long term. Good luck. 

Our fault

by AgentX86 - 2021-11-29 01:22:41

As Old said, it doesn't matter if it's "our fault", even if we could know such things. Just look forward and do what your doctors tell you.  Most of us have made poor choices somewhere along the line.  I know I sure have.  No one will believe how much weight I've lost but it's taken many years.  Lets just say that my cardiologist is very happy and he doen't do happy much.  ;-)

Learn as much as you can so you can ask informed questions.  The more you know the more your doctors are likely tell you.  Most don't want to know.  Make it clear that you do and they'll spend more time with you.

Since one of your parents has a rhythm issue (Afib assumed) the chances that you'll have problems too is increased significantly. Heart block isn't the worst thing that can happen.  It's the second easiest thing (behind SSS) for a pacemaker to correct.

Old is also right on with weight loss.  Just plan on a pound a week and be happy if you can keep on track.  Don't deprive yourself of a binge, now and then.  If you do, you'll beat yourself up more and be less likely to stay on your plan. 

Exercise it key, too.  It's possible to lose weight through exercise but it's difficult. The more you exercise the more your body wants to be fed and you'll crave carbs to restore your blood glucose.  You have to outstrip that reflex with exercise, to make it work.  That's a lot of exercise. A sensible diet is easier.  One of the weight loss companies (e.g. weight watchers) can work well for support.

Most likely not your fault!

by PacedNRunning - 2021-11-29 03:53:14

Some electrical issues with the heart we have no control over.  I was 46 when I developed heart block. I was very fit, runner that was very active. So surprise when I developed exercise induced AV block. Say what?  Yup! All I hear from people is your so young and healthy I would never expect this to happen. Well it did!!! If it's just an electrical issue and structurally your heart is fine, then it was nothing you could do.  I'm still very active and living life. 

causes of heart conditions

by Tracey_E - 2021-11-29 09:19:00

Poor diet choices cause clogged arteries- plumbing problems

Lack of exercise causes weakened heart muscle.

Electrical problems can be genetic, from infection or some medications. More often than not, they are completely random and we never know the cause. Nothing we did caused it. Nothing we could have done differently would have prevented it. 

The lessons to learn from this are listen when your body is talking to you, and making some changes to your lifestyle can prevent further problems to complicate the ones you've already got with plumbing problems down the road. Guilt and blame are a waste of energy, especially when it's highly unlikely that you could have prevented this. 

New member cont.

by UpperHand - 2021-11-29 10:34:17

Thanks to all.  I really appreciate your responses.  My mother was diagnosed with "heart flutters" or something in her 30s, probably, and took some medication for that for many years.  She got a pacemaker much later in life than I did, but I never did know exactly what diagnosis she had.  I believe she said her heart was beating too slowly, which was the case for me.  My sister told me her own heart skips beats sometimes and that my mother's brother also has some heartbeat problems.  I was told at my first pacemaker checkup that my upper chambers essentially beat at a normal rate, but the lower chambers almost never get the signal to follow the upper.  So, left untreated, the effective pulse detected by the instruments is only in the 30s even though the atria are doing well.  I'm new to all this, and I'm sure you all understand it better.  Thanks again.

that's heart block

by Tracey_E - 2021-11-29 12:07:13

You just described heart block. Bradycardia is when the heart beats too slowly. That's more a symptom than a diagnosis. Heart block is a cause of bradycardia. The sinus rate (atria) is perfectly normal and goes up and down like it should, but the signal is blocked on the way to the ventricles so the ventricles beat at random. The pacer watches. Every time the atria beats, it gives the ventricles a fraction of a second to keep up. If they don't beat, it sends a signal which mimics what the heart should have done on it own. The heart responds by contracting (beating). Think of it like a short circuit, the pacer completes the broken circuit. 

Does your mom have Lupus, by any chance? That's about the only known cause of heart block. Mine is congenital, cause unknown. Heart block in itself is not genetic, so we can't get it from our parents or pass it on to our kids. Given how many in your family have heart problems, it may be worth it to ask for genetic testing to give you a better picture. 

The good news is because our sinus nodes/atrial rate is normal, this is the easiest heart condition to fix. The pacer gives us a normal beat. 

Heart block

by UpperHand - 2021-11-29 21:44:39

Thanks, Tracey_E.  Yes, I was diagnosed with a full cardiac block.  I understand the bradycardia being just a symptom.  My mother didn't have Lupus.  As you can probably tell, I don't know exactly what conditions she had.  I should ask my sister for more information, or even my uncle if I can get him to respond.

You know you're wired when...

You get your device tuned-up for hot dates.

Member Quotes

At age 20, I will be getting a pacemaker in few weeks along with an SA node ablation. This opportunity may change a five year prognosis into a normal life span! I look forward to being a little old lady with a wicked cane!