Testing the Pacemaker

Something that struck out to me while they were testing the pacemaker after I had it implanted was that they brought out this device that went over my chest where the pacemaker was put in, and then were testing the device. I don't know exactly what had happened, but they pressed a button on the screen and I had the worst palpitations I've ever had, my palms and legs went sweaty, and it honestly felt like my heart had stopped.

The Doctor seemed kind of concerned and stopped it immediately, and then wanted to test it again with me doing deep breaths. This time it went smoother, but it was very concerning that the device that had just been put in me to assist my heart felt horrible, and since I don't need to be paced ever, unless my heart rate tanks (which only occurs once or twice a year), I'm worried for when the pacemaker does actually need to kick in that this situation will happen again.

Any advice or similar experiences when their PM was being tested after having just been put in?


5 Comments

This is part of a Pacemaker check to assess our own natural heart rate (called intrinsic rate)

by Gemita - 2022-11-15 07:21:29

Tanno, no this awful sensation (for some) should only happen/be felt during an interrogation of our device.  They place a reader over the device and then assess what our own natural heart rate (intrinsic rate) is.  My lower rate limit setting of 70 bpm is usually lowered to around 30 bpm but only for seconds and then the technician speeds my heart up again.  They like to confirm what our own heart is capable of doing without the support of the pacemaker.  At my last check up my own heart rate was hovering around 35-40 bpm with signs of an arrhythmia.

I expect they have set your lower rate limit setting to around 60 bpm (factory setting).  This will prevent any sudden falls in your heart rate below this level during everyday life, so you should not experience that awful sinking feeling.

Make sure you ask the pacemaker technicians for a comfortable place to lie or to sit, in case you briefly feel unstable during any future checks, but they will keep you safe and it will be over quickly.  Moving forward, I hope you do very well with your pacemaker

Hugs

by Lavender - 2022-11-15 08:06:18

We're familiar with that portion of the device interrogation (test). Gemita explained it well. I hate that part. On the advice of others here, I asked my pacemaker tech to make a note in the system that this part of the test really bothers me. She was then careful to let me know when it was going to happen and the duration of it. It lasts only seconds not minutes. 

As for this statement of yours:

" I'm worried for when the pacemaker does actually need to kick in that this situation will happen again"....

You won't feel your pacemaker "kick in". In fact when it's working, it keeps your heart rate steady. This weird unpleasant feeling is the heart rate sinking when the pacemaker is NOT helping out. (Your heart rate without the pacemaker is probably lower than you think and you use the pacemaker more than you realize.) They also seem to make the heart beat faster than you are used to while testing. One of our members here, AgentX86...calls it the elevator test, or something like that, when they make your heart rate go up and let your heart rate drop down.

You can ask what percentage of the time you're using the pacemaker. 

You are not alone. We understand that feeling of dread. You are in no danger when they do it, though. 

testing the pacemaker

by new to pace.... - 2022-11-15 09:05:41

I have had now  2 yearly checkups of my pacemaker.  I have not felt this  test.  Have read that many have this part.  Will ask next year about this particular test.  Know this last time the puck would not stay so i held it in place.

new to pace

@Lavender & @Gemita

by Tanno - 2022-11-15 10:39:04

Thank you both for your responses, they did tell me that the PM has a limit where it will only pace once my heart rate goes to 45, as my heart rate is generally fine (between 70-100), and the reason for having the PM inserted was due to rare instances which happened once or twice a year, where I'd pass out and my heart would pause for 6 seconds or so.

Thankfully, I do have a smartwatch which tells me my heart rate, and I check it often. The lowest I've seen my heart go is usually just before sleep, or just after I wake up, where it's at 55.

I have my 2-month review of it in January, so it would be interesting to see if I have actually been paced or not (since I don't actually expect myself to have been), and really the roughest part of this has been the aches, pains, and stinging of the scar (as well as my left arm being weak and also aching).

"Elevator test"

by AgentX86 - 2022-11-15 11:44:11

I call it the "elevator test" because it feels like the bottom is falling out. No, I don't like it either but they keep doing it.  They do warn me ahead of time, now, so I just enjoy the rollercoaster. I have no escape rhythm so ride the thing all the way down to the lobby (the're not allowed to go below 30bpm).

You know you're wired when...

You get your device tuned-up for hot dates.

Member Quotes

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.