Low battery

I have had my pacemaker since 2/2013. It is time to replace it. I have been having a lot of fatigue and the last week or so some nausea and discomfort in my upper torso. When I called the doctor they told me those symptoms are not associated with the pacemaker low battery situation. They have moved up my surgery but I just wondered if anyone else has had this experience. 
Thank you


5 Comments

Fatigue, nausea, chest discomfort

by Gemita - 2022-07-24 06:11:13

Hello Grandma, you have done reasonably well with your battery and I hope you will not have long to wait for a replacement.  Do you have an indication of when this might be? 

Fatigue, nausea and discomfort in your upper torso can have many causes as you will appreciate.  Personally I would go along to see your general doctor first for a few checks so that a proper diagnosis can be made.  

From what I have read here, when our batteries start fading we may experience symptoms due to pacing changes to conserve battery.  At around 6 months of battery life remaining, we go into a period called ERI - elective replacement indication - for around 3 months.  At this stage we shouldn't feel any changes to our pacing, since the pacemaker is still fully functional.  After approx 3 months, however, we will slide into EOL - end of life - battery period for approx another 3 months and at this stage we would start to notice symptoms because our pacemaker will cut back on many of its regular functions.  This is why some members may push to have a battery replaced before reaching this stage.  In EOL, pacemaker will pace at a steady rate (usually 60 bpm) rather than be fully responsive and go up and down as required.  We will still be safe, but may not feel so comfortable.

When my electrical disturbances are troublesome (I have tachycardia/bradycardia syndrome), they can certainly cause a whole range of symptoms including fatigue, nausea and chest discomfort (and chest discomfort can be felt in my neck, upper chest, mid central chest and stomach).  The fatigue can be overwhelming.   Automatic switching of pacemaker modes or other pacing changes that have been set up to occur during electrical disturbances, may also cause difficult symptoms for some of us.  Perhaps also you are feeling anxious about your replacement and have developed stress related gastric reflux.  There are so many possibilities which is why a visit to your general doctor would help.  Good luck and please try not to worry.  Device replacement according to many here is a relatively straightforward procedure.

Update:  Have a look at the following link “Adverse clinical events caused by pacemaker battery depletion:  two case reports.  See particularly end of report:  “Discussion and conclusions”. It is interesting and suggests that some of us may indeed start to experience adverse effects, even when we are in ERI period.  If this is the case with you, I would push for an early replacement to hopefully resolve your symptoms.  Please copy and paste the link into your browser to open it:-

https://bmccardiovascdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12872-020-01622-x

My Daughter's EOL Experience

by Marybird - 2022-07-24 09:36:29

My daughter's last pacemaker generator went into its EOL period before she had it replaced in August 2020. This came about as a result of the 'if it's not covid, it goes to the back burner" ( ie, no elective procedures) policies at the time, a non-functioning remote monitor ( and not great Medtronic customer service), and some footdragging on her part. Fortunately the generator was replaced within a week after the EOL started. 

During the 3 month period of EOL, most of the pacemakers' functions cease, and it paces at a steady 65 beats per minute. My daughter, with a very poor underlying ventricular escape rhythm at about 25-30 BPM, knew exactly when the EOL kicked in. She lacked any energy at all to do much of anything, and was short of breath, and felt generally lousy.. She had to take a week off work and spent most of that week in bed. The clue to the problem was the steady 65 BPM.

As Gemita mentioned, during the ERI period, which occurs for 3 months before the EOL, the pacemaker functions normally so I'd think any symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, etc. could just as well be due to issues other than the pacemaker. I recall the nurse at my daughter's EP's office told her she would hear an audible alarm from the pacemaker when the ERI started, so she was waiting for that. However, she never did hear that alarm, and it turns out there was no such alarm programmed into her pacemaker ( implanted in 2012). There may be such alarms in the newer pacemakers, but the alarms must be turned on in the pacemaker settings to work. 

Nausea

by Persephone - 2022-07-24 17:38:02

I was stunned to learn that the nausea that I was experiencing was related to heart block when I got my diagnosis - I had no idea that nausea could be a SOB symptom - not that I even knew what SOB was. Sometimes we and others are blind to what's going on with our bodies. Anyway, I would take it seriously, Grandma, and seek replacement sooner rather than later.

I could go on and on about how the less complicated male internal structures compared to those of women may have influenced the wealth of information about this, but that's probably not all that relevant here. Wishing you well.

Nausea

by Marybird - 2022-07-25 10:47:20

It's been my experience that nausea ( and when it happens, vomiting) absolutely can go along with the dizziness, lightheadness associated with tachycardia, bradycardia,  other heart issues, pain or all of the above from any cause. I've been lucky not to have more than mild nausea sometimes when I've had tachycardia/arrhythmia incidents, but others can have much worse, it just varies. The SOB that goes along with these issues can be very subtle- at least that's been my experience- so people having it may not be aware of it. I generally have some mild SOB with the tachycardia, and I sure had some with the bradycardia before my PM implant. I noticed it as having to stop and catch my breath before I finished a sentence ( and not run-on sentences either, LOL), or before I could complete a task. 

My daughter experienced severe nausea, and vomiting in association with her incessant tachycardia ( constant heart rates at 130 BPM, would go to 180-200 with any activity). These eventually became better controlled after numerous ablations, some sinus node, some ablating of her AV node ( desperate measures, meds weren't working and her EP told her, and us that she would die if these tachys weren't brought under control, she was sliding into heart failure), and the last ablation from the outside of her heart via thoracotomy. She has a pacemaker, and thank goodness things are much better for her these days. 

I'd also think it's probably a good time for Grandma's pacemaker generator replacement. You really don't want to  get into that EOL stage. 

Nausea and discomfort caused by low battery

by Grandma5 - 2022-07-25 23:19:21

Thank you all for your information, it really eased my mind. I did go to see the gastroenterologist and she said to call her after my pacemaker was replaced if the symptoms persist. My doctor was able to move my surgery up and I'm getting my new pacemaker tomorrow.

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I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for pacemakers. I've had mine for 35+ years. I was fainting all of the time and had flat-lined also. I feel very blessed to live in this time of technology.