PM battery change

Hi all!  I haven't been on pacemaker club for a few years now because my pm has worked without any hitches and because I have been experiencing many other health issues. I've had my pm for just over 10 years now. I keep asking my cardiologist how I will know I need a battery replacement. He is very vague and keeps telling me that he will be contacted when the time comes. And even the he can have it extended another 3 months (?). I saw him last in early June, 2023 and he told me I had 4 months left on my battery. I have been doing the wireless transmission from home and haven't had an in-office transmission in a couple of years. Two days ago I had severe chest pain going up into my throat for about 2 minutes, then noticed my heart rate dropped from 90+bpm (normal for me for 10 years) to 65. It doesn't budge up from there no matter what I do. I also feel a constant fluttering in my chest and my chest feels very tight. It's difficult to reach my cardiologist. I have to go through his nurse and leave a message for her to ask him. It sometimes take a week before she gets back to me. I'm just winding if my symptoms are from my battery running down. I feel so clueless about my pacemaker knowledge. I have a Medtronic Sensia pm. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated. 
Thank you,

Mojo


10 Comments

Aw sounds challenging!

by Lavender - 2023-08-06 22:36:06

I haven't had a pacemaker change but it sounds like you need one. Can you email what you wrote here and send it to your cardiologist or EP's office? I know where I live in the USA, I can email or call my cardiologist any time. I can also go to the emergency department at the hospital for care. Any chest pain should be investigated without delay. 

Thank you

by Mojo - 2023-08-06 22:52:26

Thank you Lavender, for your suggestion. But...there's no email available for the office or doctors or nurses. It's always leave a message with the nurse. It never used to be that way before Covid hit, but it's quite a disorganized office now. I'll try leaving another message, but I have my doubts. And going to the ER that my cardiologist is affiliated with is a worse circus. Last time with chest pains (6 years ago), I laid on a gurney for 8 hours in a hallway. Finally left. I really like my cardiologist, but am afraid to try to find a new one. All the doctor offices I've been in since Covid are awful because they can't keep enough staff to do the work. 
I appreciate your suggestion though. Thank you. 
Mojo

New PM

by AgentX86 - 2023-08-06 23:43:20

You may like your cardiologist but he doesn't seem like he's getting it done for some reason. There is a reason he can't keep staff, too.  Even if I weren't dependent, I'd be finding another cardiolgist long before I had symptoms of a dead battery. Not having in-person PM checks and not being able to see your cardiologist isn't acceptable, IMO.  Covid is no excuse.

Definitely get in touch

by PacedNRunning - 2023-08-07 02:25:40

Definitely get in touch with your doctor. Once your battery changes to ERI( elective battery replacement) your battery is not dead. It still works just at battery save mode. At that time, they have 3 mos to change your battery out before it's depleted. So you have some cushion. I just had a replacement and my doctor made me aware of what it would feel like if it went into battery mode. My HR would stay 50. Different brands have a different lower rate it paces at when it's in low mode. Medtronic for most models is 65. If you have AV block and depending on how much you pace, it may stay at 65. 
I have Boston and my device model does not lose function at ERI, it still works normally. It doesn't dial down until it's depleted which us EOL end of life. thankfully my doctor is on top of it. We changed it out when I still had 5 months left. So basically 2 mos before ERI. 
Definitely get on the phone Monday and let them know. Its time for a change. Hopefully they don't make you wait too long. 

Elective Replacement

by Good Dog - 2023-08-07 08:50:37

It sounds as though at the moment you felt that 2 minutes of chest pain your PM switched to elective replacement mode. What that means is that you are now being paced only in your ventricle and your heart is a little out-of-sync. That can be uncomfortable, but is not dangerous. I get very short of breath when that happens and have asked my Doc to change it before I get there. However, it can be an insurance issue. In any case, you are not in any danger and you have approx 3 months of battery life remaining, You also have another 3 months beyond that, so not to worry.

However, I agree with Agenx86. I don't think that you are being served very well by your current Doc.

I am sure that this will serve as a learning experience for you. A generator change is not a big deal and I am sure you will be fine. Hopefully they can get you in within a couple od days so that you can get back to normal living again!

I wish you the best!

Dave

insurance

by new to pace.... - 2023-08-07 14:37:22

Hopefully you are on some type of medicare or a least something from your last place you worked.

new to pace

at the end

by Tracey_E - 2023-08-07 21:35:05

Your doctor is being careless with you. You have gone past elective replacement mode (approx 3 months) to end of service (EOS) which means <3 months  until it stops completely. Your rate is no longer going up because the pacer has cut back function before it stops. If you can't reach the office, go to the ER. It's not exactly an emergency, but it will be if they don't start paying attention asap. Do what you have to to get their attention. 

I'm on my 5th. When I get under a year, they switch from quarterly to monthly checks. I have never once gone EOS. Once it gets to ERI, they tell me and we schedule replacement. There is no excuse for not keeping a closer eye on you once he knew it was so close to the end. 

Thanks all!

by Mojo - 2023-08-07 22:21:12

Hi everyone again!  I managed to talk to my cardiologist's nurse. She told me that I needed to do a home pace transmission right away. That if she saw a problem on it she would call my cardiologist (his day off today, of course).  Otherwise she would talk to him tomorrow (he's totally booked up with appointments) and see what he has to say. She said she probably wouldn't be able to get back to me tomorrow, but most likely on Wednesday. I'm beyond angry at this point. I have read and reread all your wonderful comments and I so appreciate them all. I am on Medicare with a great supplement plan, am 69 years old (female) and have so many other medical problems, needing more back surgery and leg surgery. I'm supposed to have stents put in my lower left leg on the 23rd. Do I cancel that?  Would I make it through that?  I also have two granddaughters getting married, one next week and another 2 weeks later with multiple guests coming from out of state. I'm wondering if I'll even be able to go to them. I tried asking the nurse these questions and she promptly said that she needs to see the trans results and talk to the doctor. I know it's suggested that I go to the ER, but it's one of the worst hospitals out there for getting anything done. They just ignore you no matter what you say or how many times you bug them. I don't think they have had any positive reviews for years. I just want to get this changed and get on with my life and find another cardiologist out there that cares, but I know it's difficult to start all over trying to find the right one. Don't even know where to start. My husband is a patient at the same cardiology group. His cardiologist retired and nobody let any of his patients know. I think my husband is ever angrier than I and tried to leave a message with the nurse. She never called him back. 
Thank you all for your wise and kind and honest advice. I so appreciate it all. 

Replacement time

by piglet22 - 2023-08-08 06:19:22

Hello

I experienced a nearly depleted battery in 2016 and I can tell you, it spoils your day.

With an old Medtronic of 11-years service, it announced it's retirement by tugging on my pectoral and left side arm muscles and starting an involuntary twitch at pacemaker base rate of 60-bpm.

It was replaced the next day but I wasn't best pleased that despite 3-monthly face to face checkups, it still failed. So instead of a planned replacement with arrangements to get there etc., all I had time for was to pick up a bunch of keys and some money.

They were apologetic, but it should never have got to be an emergency. Luckily, It was at home, but it could have been at 6-miles high over some ocean.

I'm surprised, but in agreement about the service you can get from some medical departments. I thought it might just be the NHS but obviously it's not.

Communication seems to be the first casualty of a poor department. I don't know if it's demoralisation or plain bad attitude.

I've had one consultant phone me and said he arrange an urgent PM check. That was 6-weeks ago. A registrar phoned me to get a full ECG done to try and locate the source of ectopics. That was nearly 3-weeks ago.

I'd have a small bet that neither will happen. What is bad is that they just leave it at that. You don't know what is going on and will probably have to go back to the GP so the whole cycle can start again.

replacements

by Tracey_E - 2023-08-08 10:56:26

There's no reason why you would miss any of your family events due to replacement. It's a very minor surgery and you might be sore but you should be able to go out. If they haven't replaced by then, I'd still go, just take it easy. Your heart is not going up on exertion anymore, so try not to exert. 

Good luck! Can you travel for better care? I'm currently taking care of my inlaws. The doctors in their town are not good and my husband and I have a pact that no matter how big they emergency we will not let the other get anywhere near the local hospital. We travel an hour to the next biggest town for most of their doctors (why I am here, I spend a week and cram in all of the appointments we can fit in)

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