Newbie Pacemaker Questions


I'm scheduled to have an EP test and most likely a pacemaker installed on 4/10 so I'm wondering what to expect after the device is installed. I'm a 56 year old MWM who has had a slow pulse rate, lower 40s to upper 30s, since I was first hooked up to an EKG machine. Now it appears that my pulse drops into the 20s while I sleep and the overnight halter monitor showed lots of "squiggly" lines when my heart did some kind of reset while I slept. The only other symptoms I appear to have is that I tend to doze off a lot while watching TV or in the afternoons at work. I had thought this was a result of just getting older but now I'm starting to have different ideas. I'm classified as obese, as I should ideally weigh 180 but I'm about 230 at this time. I recently gave up smoking cigars and am currently a light to moderate drinker. I try to walk as much as possible and do light calisthenics and back exercise almost every other day.

Two quick questions:

How long are most people in the hospital for this procedure?

How long are most people out of work?




by Trish - 2007-03-25 09:03:13

Hi Kevin...

Many go home the same day of surgery. Others stay overnite for observation. This will be up to your doc.

As far as work depends on what you do.
You will have to avoid heavy lifting or strenous exercise for up to 6 weeks, this is to insure that the leads firmly attach to the heart muscle.

You can drive after a week.

Most don't need anything more than tylenol after the surgery...which takes about 2 hours.

Hopefully after you get your pacemaker, you will find some renewed energy.

Best of luck!

Another welcome

by LeeAnn - 2007-03-25 10:03:34

Welcome! I am also a newbie to both having a PM and to this site. I am 45 and had my PM put in on 2/26/07. I also was diagnosed with bradycardia, especially while sleeping as well as syncope. The syncopal episodes have lasted for quite a long time with the first one I remember occuring in elementary school. Obviously I didn't grow out of these vasovagal episodes and the solution to my long standing problems was presented to me as a PM placement.
My pm was put in at about 2:30 during conscious sedation, I was awake and alert throughout the entire procedure and could interact with the cardiac cath OR staff and my DR. I could feel "probing and presssure" around the implanatation site similar to what you feel at the dentist after being numbed. I was not able to observe the exact procedure as my left chest wall was the sterile field and my face was draped. Recovery time was short, much shorter that having a cardiac cath done and not nearly as uncomfortable/painful.. I was taken to a telemetry unit for overnight observation and released the following afternoon. I had a medtronic dual pacer put in and a medtronic tech came in to make sure that my heart was pacing as it should and that the pm itself was working correctly. He verified the settings that my EP had set. My pacer is set up as an on demand pacer which from the sounds of things yours may be set up the same way. I was off work for a week,( I am a nurse and the likelihood of heavy lifting--definitely more that 5 lbs is an everyday occurrence) Factor in that I was told no driving for a week and my place of employment is 44 miles away one way, one week is what it ended up being. Same wt. restrictions for 30 days and no extending the left arm (usually) above the head for a 30 to 60 day time frame, depending on Dr. GOOD LUCK!

Doing both at once?

by kmcgrath - 2007-03-26 10:03:38

>>The EP study and pacemaker is two different >>procedures they didn't do them at the sametime.


Thanks to all for the great feedback and re: the above my doctor has told me that he already would have no problem inserting a PM in me just based on my history and the most recent halter monitor output. I think he is going to perform the EP to confirm his diagnosis and then most likely "install" the PM.


Good News!

by tcrabtree85 - 2007-03-26 11:03:41

That is great that should also mean only a night in the hospital. Sounds like your doctor is prepared very well. Keep us updated.


by tcrabtree85 - 2007-03-26 12:03:39

Hi Kevin,
First I want to wish you luck. I just had an EP test done at the end of Jan and then another one last week and a pm placed in. My first EP study lasted 4 1/2 hrs. where I go they keep everybody overnight to observe them. The first time I was released the next afternoon. I had to be off from work for a week and went back to lifting people. This time ablation lasted 7 hrs. and I spent two nights in the hospital b/c of getting the pacemaker. The EP study and pacemaker is two different procedures they didn't do them at the sametime. Before you go in I would ask them if that is the case. I signed all of my papers before my EP study for the pacemaker so they wouldn't have to go through my family. I will keep you in my prayers if you have any questions feel free to ask anytime and if I can't answer them I will search for answers.

ICD insted of a PM was Needed

by kmcgrath - 2007-04-15 09:04:24

Howdy All,

I went into Lenox Hill hospital in NYC on Tuesday 4/10 and my doctor performed an EP test on me that evening. The result of that test showed that I required an ICD instead of a PM due to a problem that they found when they tested the lower portion of my heart. Apparently they the lower portion beating at a very fast rate, even though my resting pulse was in the lower 40s to upper 30s. They had to use the stick-on paddles to bring me back at some point, a fact which made my wife very nervous when my doctor passed that along to her in a very matter of fact manner. After checking with my cardiologist and making me go through a stress test, which I later found out to be unnecessary, he installed a Medtronic Virtuoso DR D154AWG ICD the next evening, as I was brought up to surgery a ~07:30 PM and back in my room & eating dinner by ~10:00 PM. He set the ICD to keep my heart rate from going below 60. The next afternoon he but me under briefly to check the operation of the ICD and I was then released from the hospital later that evening after getting one more round of IV antibiotics. The scar area looks a bit nasty as they apparently now use glue instead of stitches to close the incision. I understand they do this to reduce scarring when they have to go back in and replace the device.

Outside of the waiting around all day for two days without eating or drinking anything and having to take a needless stress test in those flimsy hospital slipper socks wearing a hospital gown and dealing with the apparently normal organized chaos of hospital stays, I was pleased with the professionalism of my doctors and nurses and the rest of the hospital staff. My EP doctor really knows his stuff and the EP test room and OR was staffed with top notch people.

The area of my left shoulder where the device was implanted was and still is a bit sore and scar & surrounding area is kind of ugly to look at but the stiffness has be getting better day by day. I have been taking one 600mg Ibuprofen pill before bedtime to help me sleep comfortably. The last two nights I have noticed a bit of staining on my tee shirt around the incision area and I’m going to ask my doctor in the AM if I need to be concerned about that. I have to go back & see my EP doctor in a couple of weeks and he also wants me to go back and see my cardiologist.

I’ve been doing a reduced set of back exercises & sit-ups every other day since I returned home and yesterday I went for a slow walk over to Marine Park that lasted about 90 minutes, with lots of stops to take pictures and visit to my sister’s house on the way home.

Thanks again to those who responded to my questions and the kind words of support.


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Good luck with your surgery. It will improve life amazingly.