Diagnosed with complete heart block

I am 57 and recently retired and was about to begin enjoying myself. Was planning to travel to Europe next suumer and relocate to the beach. Had an abnormal EKG during a colonoscopy last month and was referred to a heart specialist. Went to see an electrophysiologist today and was told I need a pacemaker for a complete heart block. I jhave never been seriously ill in my life and excersise daily....cycling, walking weightlifting.  Still having a hard time believing this as I feel pretty good...asymtomatic. Because I am not experiencing any symptoms I can hold off on the surgery until next week. Otherwise I would be in the hospital right now. Any thoughts on whether I should get a second opinion before going forward with the procedure? The doctor was pretty adament that I needed one. Thanks!


14 Comments

pacing for heart block

by Tracey_E - 2022-10-18 20:14:24

How low is your heart rate? If it's not dangerously low and you are asymptomatic, you can take the time to get a second opinion. 

Two things

1, often we don't feel quite as good as we think we feel. After being paced, many of us are shocked to learn how much better we feel

2, heart block will not reverse itself, and it rarely stays the same. It almost always gets worse so pacing is a matter of when, not if. 

Ok, I lied, 3 things. If your rate is dipping low at night, we don't always feel that during the day but know that it is affecting your body. Our organs need oxygen to thrive, so a low rate affects them. Feeling asymptomatic does not necessarily mean being completely asymptomatic. 

You can travel and be active with a pacer. It will not hold you back at all, if anything it gives us more energy. We are the same age, but my heart block is congenital and I've been paced since 1994. There is nothing I want to do that I cannot. I've run every day this week, and I'm leaving for Europe on Friday. I live at the beach :) 

It's not the end of life as we know it, it's simply a bump in the road. We heal and get back to whatever we were doing before. 

Learning about heart block and how pacers work will help with acceptance. The unknown is scary, so read up and learn all you can. I go to my doctor with a written list of questions. They all know me now so I don't have to ask to have things explained anymore, they automatically know to keep me informed more than the average patient. 

heart block

by jgman - 2022-10-18 20:33:13

Hi Tracey. Thanks for your response. My heart rate was 48 today at my appointment. I think my heart rate does dip at night as I wake up frequently. My doctor suggested that I consider  checking in to the hospital today to expedite treatment but I opted for the outpatient route and chose to have the procedure next week. I am now rethinking this decision based on your post.

Complete Heart Block

by Doxies1 - 2022-10-18 21:27:02

I am 61 and  suffered a complete 3 Degree heart block a month ago , it was unexpected and no previous symptoms . I fainted was rushed to hospital it was worst experience of my life. A line for a temporary pacemaker was placed on my neck until next day that i got my permanent one  If you know that you have complete heart block don't wait have the pacemaker implanted asap.  

 

Complete heart block

by AgentX86 - 2022-10-18 21:58:59

A cardiologist can pick out a complete heart block on an EKG from a mile away.  You might want to get a second opinion but it won't be any different.  I wouldn't waste the time.  You need the pacemaker. Sorry.

Don't worry about next summer.  You'll be back to normal (likely a lot better) long before that.

Complete Heart Block

by jgman - 2022-10-18 22:01:49

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Plan to check into the hospital tomorrow to expedite the process.

OK, but

by ourswimmer - 2022-10-18 22:59:29

It doesn't sound as if you have a total emergency on your hands, just a situation that needs prompt attention. Take Tracey_E's excellent advice seriously about formulating a list of questions and asking all of them. Crowdsource them from your friends if necessary.

If athletic activity is important to your identity and well-being, pay particular attention to what device you get and how your electrophysiologist plans to use it to support your preferred sport(s). I got the device that my EP thought worked best for swimming (Biotronik), and it does work well for me. Lots of people think the Boston Scientific devices work well for cycling. They probably all can work OK for lots of activity, but make sure your team knows what's important to you.

I can relate

by Mad Hatter - 2022-10-18 23:00:31

I'm 56 and was asymptomatic as well, avid runner.  Was on a red eye flight back from Alaska when I passed out.  Apparently my heart was stopping for up to 7 seconds in my sleep.  Went through the same difficulties in believing the diagnosis and going through with the pm. Talked to my personal doctor and another cardiologist who both confirmed that it would probably get worse and that I might pass out while driving.  I'm 2 months post pm and back to full activities including traveling and training for a 10K a week from Saturday.  Lots of good people and advice here.  You'll be fine.  God bless. 

Asymptomatic CHB

by Rch - 2022-10-18 23:37:14

As you are currently totally asymptomatic, I would suggest you talk to your PCP first to rule out any reversible causes of complete heart block. Also, was the CHB noted on the monitor during the conscious sedation for colonoscopy? If so, please make sure your EP ran another 12 lead to confirm the findings on a different day. Transient vagally  mediated heart blocks during sedation or sleep are not uncommon and pacemaker is controversial for these episodes. Also, a word of caution: do not drive, cycle or exercise pending work up. 

Heart Block

by jgman - 2022-10-19 05:53:17

Thanks for the advice everyone. I will definitly reach out to my doctor and inquire abour the pacemaker brand so I can get one for cyclists. Also, I've had 3 EKGs on differet days including the one before the colonoscopy that indicated complete heart block.

 

Complete heart block

by abbygirl - 2022-10-19 06:33:03

I was diagnosed 20 years ago with complete heart block when I got dizzy riding my motorcycle. Got home, passed out and woke up in the er. I'm now on my third pm. My husband and I live fulltime in our 40 ft rv, traveling the country. It hasn't slowed me down for one minute. I am grateful for the technology that gave me the ability to live my life.

Blessings on your journey!

by Lavender - 2022-10-19 11:42:47

It sounds like you're joining the club officially. 
My heart block was sneaky but we eventually caught it and fought back with a CRT-P device. 
Love seeing others -like Mad hatter post-wasn't long ago he wandered in here in disbelief and shock after getting a surprise from his heart. 
 

You are young and will be as vibrant as ever-with nothing to hold you back! 

Out of surgery

by jgman - 2022-10-20 19:11:34

Just had a Medtronics pacemaker inserted. Got out of surgery 3 hours ago and the doctor said I can go home tonight. Also said I can get back on the bike next week. My pulse was beating int the 30 and 40s and now it is in the 60s+. I feell so much more alert and energetic. Thanks to everyone for their helpful and supportive comments.

Ahhh good to hear!

by Lavender - 2022-10-20 19:48:14

So Europe and the beach are in your near future. 🏝🏖🛫⛱You'll be a busy retiree enjoying life even better than ever! Thanks be to God for unveiling this issue so it could be rapidly handled!

great news

by Tracey_E - 2022-10-21 09:01:19

So glad you are feeling strong!! For me it was like a fog lifting. If you have questions as you heal, you know where to find us. 

You know you're wired when...

Your signature looks like an EKG.

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