I had my pacemaker installed in an emergency surgery on Wed. afternoon. Since I have been dealing with a great deal of anxiety about all aspects of my recovery. I had a very sudden onset of heart block and it was quite frightening. I can't seem to shake the fears that it will happen again or that I will have every complication possible. In actuality all seems to be going well. Is there any help for the anxiety?



Hey Jack

by hotform - 2007-08-06 01:08:02

The old saying that time heals all wounds would certainly apply to your anxiety.
I suffered from high anxiety after finding out I had NCS and SSS and needed a pacer.
There I was running several miles a day, lifting weights, and working and enjoying life.
But suddenly I was passing out from a low heart rate and putting myself and others in danger.
I certainly didn't want to get a pacer and second guessed my decision for months. Even though I have felt fantastic for over two years now, I still get a little anxiety and frustrated when someone judges me based solely on the fact that I have a pacer.
For me, I think that has been the worst as I want others to see past the machine and see the person and all I have to give, use and share.
Generally speaking though, I felt a lot better about the decision and my anxiety went way down right around the 3 month mark.
I just kept reminding myself of how much better I felt and of the little things I hadn't been able to enjoy for quite a while. Like coffee. I hadn't drank coffee for several years as the caffeine screwed with my heart rate. Now I enjoy several cups a day with no problems.
Sometimes its the little things in life like coffee that make us feel better. You just have to find your little thing. Rick

New Pacemaker

by SMITTY - 2007-08-06 01:08:26

Hello Jack,

Welcome to the club. So you have joined a couple of million of us that have a pacemaker. I know that can be kind of frightening, but it doesn't have to be that way. But first you say you got your PM because of a sudden onset of heart block. I don't know how much you were told about heart block but the following is a short explanation of heart block.

Heart Block is a condition in which there is failure in the conduction of electrical impulses from the natural pacemaker (Sinoatrial node) through the heart, which can lead to a slowing of the pump action. In some cases, a pacemaker is implanted to treat the abnormally slow heartbeat that may result from this condition. Third degree heart block, also known as complete heart block, is a disease of the electrical system of the heart, in which the impulse to cause the ventricles to contract which is generated in the top half of the heart (typically the SA node in the right atrium) does not spread to the left or right ventricles as it should. Thus, the ventricles beat very slowly—less than 50 beats per minute and sometimes as slowly as 30 beats per minute. Third-degree heart block is a serious arrhythmia that can affect the heart's pumping ability. Fatigue, dizziness, and fainting are common. When the ventricles beat faster than 40 beats per minute, symptoms are less severe.

Your pacemaker is a manmade device to do the job that for whatever reason your heart's natural pacemaker is not doing. While the thought of having a manmade device to take the place of something, we always think of our heart doing is scary. But in the case of pacemakers, they are apparently more dependable than all of the parts of our heart. Since there are o moving parts there is nothing to wear out in a PM, except the battery will slowly run down over a period of years. The actual life of the battery will depend on how often the pacemaker is helping your heart. Even though you have complete heart block that does not necessarily mean that your heart is totally dependant on that pacemaker.

Your heart's electrical system evidently quit working as it should and you got a pacemaker, however, that does not mean your heart's electrical system is permanently out of service. It may come back on line for periods of time, in which case you PM will just go along for the ride.

Our pacemakers include a feature that I don't think our doctors tell enough about. Before a pacemaker sends out an electrical impulse to make our heart beat, it checks to see if the heart’s natural pacemaker is going to do this. If there is an indication the heart will beat without help the PM just sits there and waits for the next heart beat to see if it will be needed. A quick easy way I check to see if my PM is doing the work in place of my heats' natural PM, I check my heart rate. My PM is set for a 60 to 110 range. If my heart rates drop below 60 my PM comes on line and keeps it at a minimum of 60 BPM. If I'm holding a steady 60 BPM, I can be certain my PM is doing the work. But, if my heart rate goes above 60 and is steady, my PM just tags along checking to be sure everything is working as it should. Let some of my PVCs or skip beats show up even with my heart rate is above 60 BPM my PM will fill in for my heart's natural PM.

So, while I can understand your anxiety, I think you will find your quality of life much better with a PM because like I said earlier, it may be manmade, but it is more dependable than your hearts natural pacemaker.

Just think of yourself now as being like the Energizer Bunny and that you will keep going and going and going—

Good luck,



by hooimom - 2007-08-06 04:08:07


I can't add anythng really. I just wanted to say that you have made a really good first step reaching out for help and support. This is a wonderful place for that as you can already see. You say that things are going really well...that is great. Trust that your PM is going to work. For most of us we get by fine with ours with little or no complications. You are going to feel better every single day and get more and more comfortable with your PM as well.


Hi and welcome!

by bambi - 2007-08-06 09:08:10

I certainly can't add anything that hasn't already been said, but just give yourself a BIG pat on the back for getting through a very scary ordeal! My heart goes out to everyone who has a pacemaker implanted on an emergency basis! How frightening that must be! I was warned for many months that I would probably need one, so I had time to process things! You came to the right place for help and support! Best wishes!

Hi Jack,

by Gellia2 - 2007-08-06 10:08:01

The first thing to recognize is that the anxiety is normal.
It's not an easy concept to grasp that a small box is keeping you alive. You sound like me in that I, too, had to have a pacemaker via emergency surgery. Now, that was 32 years ago. With a few modifications, your life can be quite normal. With a pacemaker the original heart block problem you have has been solved. Pacemakers are very reliable devices. They are thoroughly tested before they are implanted and very few have serious problems with them. Not that problems can't happen, but "regular" people can have problems, too. As time goes by and your pacer does its thing, your anxiety will lessen. Just remember that it is normal to have these feelings. Take a deep breath and go on with NO FEAR! The people on this website are wonderful and understanding. We are all here to help each other. Be sure to take advantage of us! :)
Best to you,


by cornellgirl - 2007-08-06 10:08:17

Hi Jack,
I also just had emergency one put in this past Tues afternoon. Mine was not the result of heart block but due to dangerously low heart rate that kept getting lower & lower and I kept blacking out, couldn't breathe, etc. no matter what they did. I also have a lot of anxiety...just because. I can't sleep and I am continually surprised by the pain. I guess you could call your doctor & ask about the anxiety and maybe they'd give you meds. Sorry, I wish I knew more but I can only share your anxiety! Hang in there.

You Are Not Alone

by Vicki - 2007-08-06 11:08:18

Hi Jack,
Like you, I was rushed to the ER with complete heart block and had to have a pacemaker put in That was 3 weeks ago. This site has helped me so much!! I hear you on the anxiety and fear. But as people here have said and my doctor explained, if it happens again, the PM takes care of it. But, it's still darned scarey.
Good luck to you.



by randrews - 2007-08-07 01:08:43

Man, I know exactly what you are saying. In the days after getting my pm I was afraid to sleep lest I not wake up. Afraid I'd never work again and then my wife and kids and me would be living on the street. Afraid to drive a car because I might black out. Afraid to even wear the shirt I was wearing when I rode the ambulance to the ER. It's all normal to feel this way. Talking to people on this site was the greates help to me. I found out what is normal. I agree with what was said before about time. It takes time to get used to it. Things will feel like normal again, it's just that normal will be different.
Take care friend, and keep talking,

It gets better

by bowlrbob - 2007-08-07 02:08:30

Jocko, My pacer was also done on an emergency basis 1 and 1/2 years ago. i felt the same as you at first. Now I hardly remember it was put in. But let me Tell you what my Dr. said to me after the surgery.
He told me that i was better off than most people out there because having a pacemaker is like a trapeze artist doing their tricks with a safety net. All the other folks out there don;'t have any safety net. so we are the lucky one's. Thinking in those terms helped me. I hope it helps you. Bowlrbob


by bini - 2007-08-07 11:08:22

Dear Jack,
Your anxiety will get better with time. I have had my PM for a little over a month and still sometimes get spells of anxiety, though they are getting better each day.
This is such a hard thing for everyone to get used, it is a foreign object in your body...and it's hard to believe that something so small can do such a world of good.

I would see if your Doctor would be willing to provide a temporary anti-anxiety drug. I was taking larazapam for a while after my surgery bc I couldn't sleep at night due to PM anxiety.

Just hang in there, things will get better. This is a great sight to discuss anything. It's truly a great support system!

You know you're wired when...

Your ICD has a better memory than you.

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Your heart’s electrical system has a manmade helper. A helper that only knows to do what it is programmed to do and will perform that function day in and day out, without fail. Now, go enjoy your new grip on life.