Running after PM

Hi all,

I am 21 years old and I had my PM implanted 2 weeks ago for High Grade AV block (I used to faint frequently and complete heart block would occur for 40 seconds or longer). I am a cross country and track athlete in college, and I was wondering if anyone has had any experience in getting back into long distance running after surgery. Today was my first time attempting to really run instead of just bike, and I feel very out of shape, short of breath, and tired when attempting to run. I only managed to get in two miles today and my pace was much slower than normal. How long does it take after surgery to get back to where I would normally be?



by TraceyE - 2017-12-05 09:44:17

This comes up at least once a week! There are many very active members here, and a few competitive athletes. Two weeks post op isn't long, give it at least a month or two before you expect too much. It takes the heart a while to get used to being paced, it take the body time to recover from surgery. Many of us get deconditioned in the time before surgery. 

When you feel short of breath, take your pulse. Is it always the same, like 120 or 130? If so, then you are hitting the pacer's upper limit. This is a common problem and an easy fix. With av block our sinus node in the atria works normally but the signal isn't getting to the av node in the ventricles. The pacer watches. Every time the atria beats, it gives the ventricles a fraction of a second to beat then kicks in with pacing if it doesn't. It can only do this up to the upper limit, which often starts at 120 or 130, so if your sinus rate is 150, the pacer isn't going to be able to keep up. They often start it low then raise it as needed. If this is what's going on, take it easy until you can get the settings adjusted. They normally adjust anyway at 4-6 weeks once things have settled down. The settings they start us with aren't intended for long term. 


by RTDub - 2017-12-05 17:16:47

Thanks TraceyE.

I had my implant 6 days ago and am already getting restless.  I want to run, lift, bike...generally be active again, without the long wait.  I’m nervous that my heart is still erratic and that I will never reach the same fitness level again.  You remind me to be patient, allow my heart to adapt and that adjustments of my PM can occur once there is some data to interpret (in a few weeks).

Thanks for the positive outlook!


by nas49840 - 2017-12-05 18:10:50

I’m just over 5 months on my first pacemaker and I’m currently trying for a marathon. Things aren’t going as fast as I want, but it’s more my legs not keeping up than my heart. I’ve also had a tib/fib fracture since the last marathon I ran 12 years ago so I’m overcoming that more than the PM. Give your body time to recover and things will start to come back quickly. 



by ecohen34 - 2018-01-16 21:10:17

I'm not an athlete (esp not a long-distance runner) but play tennis a lot. I'm three months post-PM for 2nd degree AV block. I'm noticing that I reach a plateau in conditioning; is it my imagination or is it worse than pre-diagnosis? I can't tell but I definitely notice more difficulty with running in long rallies, though not the same shortness of breath and dypsnea I had pre-PM. My settings are 60/150 so I don't think it's the PM settings. --Ed

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