Could it have been a faulty pacemaker?

Hello, I just joined. I honestly don't know what else to do right now until we find out more from the Coroner.. my father had a pacemaker put in on August 30, 2022. ... I believe 9 days ago. He woke up this morning feeling very weak and extremely short of breath. He was very pale and clamy. Started getting very disoriented, he was not able to hold his head up and instead of talking, he could only mumble. I called 911 right away. By the time they got here, he had almost collapsed. They did a few things in the house, but needed to get him to the er asap, his pulse was dropping. By the time they got him outside, on the stretcher they were having to try to revive him and in the ambulance, had to start shocking him. They continued to do this...we headed to the er. An hour past, the Dr came to talk to us..they had been working on my Dad for over an hour, shocking him..he would hold a pulse for a second no longer than 2 seconds they would have to shock him again. They shocked him so many times to do everything they could to bring him back to us, all of his ribs got broken due to the intensity of the work they were doing on him. We didn't get to bring him home with us. We have to go to the Funeral Home in the morning to make arrangements. This wasn't supposed to happen. He was very healthy, especially for a 76 year old man that worked hard, every day to provide a good life for his family. Why did this happen? Why didn't we get to bring him home with us? The er Dr told us in his opinion, he had a faulty pacemaker put in. And that is why we didn't get to bring him home. My question is...has anyone else been through this or heard of this? I'm so lost, so confused. He was fine yesterday, and today.....he's gone.


15 Comments

Sorry for your loss

by Good Dog - 2022-09-09 07:26:17

I am so sorry for your loss. This is one of the most difficult times that anyone can go through! It is possible that he had a faulty pacemaker, but it is impossible to know for sure. There are times when a pacemaker is not sufficient to save someone. There are so many different possibilities that range from arrhythmias that a PM is unable to correct to the possibility of a blood clot, etc. There are times when the best medical interventions are simply not enough.

I would like to be more helpful, but it is impossible for anyone here to know with any certainty. God bless you. It sounds like your Dad went through a lot. He is at peace now. You can no longer help him, so please take care of yourself and your family. May God bless you, your Dad, and your family.

The loss of one's father marks one of the most profound rites of passage in our life. My deepest condolences.

 

Sincerely,

David 

So Sorry for All you Have Been Through

by SeenBetterDays - 2022-09-09 08:28:56

Hi

I am so sorry that you and your family have been through such a traumatic experience.  I can tell from your post that this must have been completely shocking and unexpected.  Sadly, having a pacemaker does not guarantee that all will be well.  It's possible that the pacemaker malfunctioned but that would be very rare.  I hope that you are able to get a more detailed explanation of exactly what caused this to happen to your Dad.  This is such a painful time for you.  As David said, it is a huge loss and one for which we can never be truly prepared. I am sending you love and thinking of you and your family.

Rebecca

 

 

condolences

by Tracey_E - 2022-09-09 11:59:07

So very sorry for your loss.

If the pacemaker was faulty, his heart rate would go back to what it was before he was paced. Ambulances carry external pacemakers, so if his internal one wasn't working they would have used their external. A pacemaker only sends the signal to beat, the heart muscle responds by contracting. If the heart muscle stops responding, cpr is the best chance to get it going again but it doesn't always work. 

I hope you are able to get some answers. 

Pacemaker failure

by AgentX86 - 2022-09-09 12:09:21

I, too, am sorry for your loss.  76 is much too young for someone to go.  It reminds us all that we're here only for a short time and even that goes quickly.

I'm not convinced it's a pacemaker failure.  That's too convenient. If he got the pacemaker only nine days ago, he was healthy enough then.  If the pacemaker should fail, he'd go back to that condition (was it an emergency implant?) The autopsy will tell more but that doesn't change the fact that you lost your dad.

Consider having his pacemaker, assuming it's not faulty, donated to someone who can use it but can't afford one.  I don't believe it's legal in much of the first-world but there are third-world countries that need anything they can get. An almost brand new pacemaker would make a wonderful gift of life to another suffering family. I can't point to it but there was a thread here about this a short while back.

So Sorry

by FG - 2022-09-09 14:25:29

Very sorry for your loss. I dearly loved my father too, he was an immigrant to the US and worked hard all the way up until he died. Will say a prayer for you. Stay around the rest of your family as much as you can. 

Sincere condolences

by Rch - 2022-09-09 19:01:19

Hi, I'm very sorry to hear that your dad passed unexpectedly a week post-pm. I also, very strongly doubt it's pacemaker failure. You would need to get an autopsy to determine the proximate cause of death. At least knowing this, would give some solace and closure to your grief! You and your family have our prayers!

 

No good answers

by Mad Hatter - 2022-09-09 22:02:22

I too am so sorry for your loss.  I understand the questions that flood your mind at this time.  My dad died on a trip to Europe at age 62.  He was sick before he went, didn't go to the doctor because he didn't want the doctor to tell him he couldn't go, turns out it was congestive heart failure.  We had lots of questions about his decision to go, the treatment he received in a small town in France, my mom being left alone after the tour group continued on, etc.  Unfortunately there are no good answers and if there were it doesn't bring our loved one back.  The grief and loss you feel is a bittersweet tribute to a life well lived.  Allow yourself time and grace to adjust to this shock and hold your family close.  I pray for peace for you and your family during this difficult time and hope you can dwell on the good memories you have of your father.  

Thank you everyone

by Crushed - 2022-09-09 22:21:22

I want to thank all of you that have taken the time to send me messages on this post. I wanted to add a few things about my Dad and his health prior to the pacemaker and post pacemaker. He did have AFib. He went threw a few different shock treatments to try to get his heart regulated. They never got it regulated. But considering, he was doing quite well. So probably a couple months after all of this, he decided to get a pacemaker to see if that would regulate it. He got the pacemaker less than 2 weeks ago. Just a couple of days after his pacemaker surgery he was sitting on the couch and all of a sudden he said..."It must be working.. I just felt like a bit of an electric shock in the area of his pacemaker. He felt the same thing a couple days after that as well. Then he started feeling just not right, not good, no where near better. During his post op Dr appointment, a week after the surgery, he was very weak and a little short of breath so he had to use a wheelchair. But his Dr's said everything looked good. So we came home. A few days later is when his traumatic incident happen leading to his death. My question now is, is it a normal thing to feel little electric shock feelings where your pacemaker was put. Is that normal? I've done some reading on this and basically all I have found so far is that no, it's not a common thing to feel...

Any and all advice, suggestions and/or opinions welcome!

Thank you all again...So much!

Little shock

by AgentX86 - 2022-09-09 23:34:26

Unless it was an ICD, there should be no shock at all.  If it was an ICD, it would probably be anything but small.

After only a couple of weeks small sensations, including "shock"-like, and itching, and a lot of other symptoms are common as healing progresses.  Scar tissue is forming and nerves have been cut so pretty much anything goes on the PM site.

A pacemaker would be very unlikey help Afib symptoms  and I don't see why a cardiologist would suggest a pacemaker for only that reason.

This is a strange one.  Even if the pacemaker failed, he should just revert to the way he felt before.  When you get more information I, for one, would like to understand more, if you don't mind.  If it's too hard to discuss it, I completely understand.

shocks

by Tracey_E - 2022-09-10 11:37:39

No, it is not normal for a pacer to give shocks however as Agent described, healing sensations can sometimes feel like little shocks.

What I'm hearing is something was going on with him when he went for his post op check, but the pacer was working fine so they sent him home. If it was a pacer follow up and the pacer was doing it's job, that doesn't mean something else wasn't wrong. Seems to me they should have checked out more than the pacer at that time.

Death with a pacemaker

by Selwyn - 2022-09-10 12:40:17

My condolesences to you and your family at the loss of your beloved Dad.

Living with loss is a life time sentence. Living with many happy memories is also a life time of pleasants thoughts, and hopefully these will offset some of the emptiness felt. 

Unexpected death is always messy. The questions people first ask is, "Can it be true?", " Why has this happened?", "Who's to blame?"

A faulty pacemaker would be very unlikely. Personally, I have never heard of one. However, never say never. Millions of people around the world depend of their lives for this technology. It really is very safe.

The same cannot be said about having a pacemaker. However, most side effects are pretty immediate. Some are fatal. Again, very rare. The longer you have a pacemaker in place, the less likely are you to have complications.

Sudden onset of symptoms suggest sudden onset of pathology, either a fatal arrhythmia, or more likely a sudden catastrophe like a coronary clot or an embolic clot. Hearts and valves can rupture. Having a pacemaker only sorts out some arrhythmias, others can be fatal. It certainly sounds that your Dad's heart failed. Having had a pacemaker, the anxiety should not be underestimated - this hightens body sensations and little 'electric shocks' can certainly be felt. The nerves are on edge and can be twitchy.

I cannot speak for the USA and unexpected death practice. Here, in the UK, the Coroner would be involved. A post mortem helps your understanding of "Why?", and also the medical team, if involved.  In the UK once the post mortem is done, the coroner would usually release the body to the next of kin ( unless there was a cause for further investigation, eg. forensic tests). You are issued with a certificate by the coroner, and a certificate of medical cause of death so that you can then make funeral arrangements, once the death has been registered with the registrar of births, deaths, marriages.  The deceased may well then come back home.  I am truely sorry to hear of your distress at the way this has been handled for you. 

Most coroners reported  deaths are to  establish cause. Sometimes an inquest may be held to establish circumstances. 

A new pacemaker can be recycled. (www.myheartyourheart.org.) Like organ donation ( corneas can be donated no matter what your age), this will help some unfortunate in this world. A nice thought on your part, especially at a time of such distress.

Hard to believe

by Lavender - 2022-09-10 20:34:27

You said, " er Dr told us in his opinion, he had a faulty pacemaker put in."

Doctors are most likely not to state something like this (and shouldn't.) There's liability to others. I would think he would more likely wait until the cause of death was determined after an autopsy. Hard to wrap my mind around a doctor stating this. That pacemaker would likely be tested before it could be declared faulty. 🧐 

Agree with Lavender

by Gemita - 2022-09-10 23:28:36

Crushed, I also find the statement ... "The er Dr told us in his opinion, he had a faulty pacemaker put in" rather hard to believe.  It would be totally irresponsible and unprofessional for a health professional to make such a statement without clear evidence of this being a possibility.  In the very least a professional would likely suggest we wait for a full report on the cause of death before jumping to any conclusions.  I hope in the fullness of time you will learn the true cause of your father's death and be better able to come to terms with your sad loss

sorry for your loss

by skigrl3 - 2022-09-17 21:42:06

Sorry for your loss and hope you get the answers you need. I hope that you will find the root cause and I hope that your dad is resting in peace.

Just checking in

by Crushed - 2022-09-18 18:53:38

Hi everyone, 

My mom and I, now that we can think a little better, are having a difficult time trying to figure out why that ER Dr would say something like that if he wasn't at least 99.9% sure that it was a faulty pacemaker that caused my Dad's death. Why would he even mention something like that to us? That is or should be something that is absolutely Not Allowed to even give anyone the idea that it might have been....much less basically telling us ... Yes, it was a faulty pacemaker. Wait? What? But he did say that's what he felt happened. We have decided to send the pacemaker off for testing. We were told that it wasn't necessary to get a complete autopsy just to find out if his pacemaker was at fault. If it wasn't the pacemaker at fault, Cardic Arrest is what we're going to go with. 

Come to find out I was incorrect with something I said. My Dad didn't get his pacemaker because he had AFib. The Dr that had been seeing him, trying to get his heart regulated "suggested" a pacemaker to see if that would not only help with his heart, but also help with his shortness of breath and fatigue... my Dad accepted that suggestion. 

Another thing I don't understand and it truly is bothering us is why in the world didn't the techs that checked his pacemaker at his 1 week post pace surgery... why didn't they even think about having him checked out more thoroughly because he had to be wheeled into the office, due to shortness of breath and being to weak to walk in. Did they not see a big red sign saying send this patient to get checked out more because something isn't right here! So I'm wondering if at that appointment, if the techs that checked him out...would have indeed made him get test ran and just whatever needed to be done to try to figure out why my Dad was back in a wheelchair, a week after his pace surgery....feeling shortness of breath and to weak to walk... Would my Dad still be with us?  <Yes, I've got myself a notebook, writing all of this down> 

We've definitely got to find out about the pacemaker though. That has to be done. I think when that is finished, we will be able to let that go and move in one direction or the other depending on the results of the pacemaker. 

I want to thank all of you that have posted and sent your condolences. That really does mean alot. 

I forgot to look at the manufacturer of the pacemaker. As soon as I find out, I will post it here. 

Thanks again....

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Member Quotes

The pacer systems are really very reliable. The main problem is the incompetent programming of them. If yours is working well for you, get on with life and enjoy it. You probably are more at risk of problems with a valve job than the pacer.