Running in stress

Hi All,

Had a pace maker fitter in Oct 2017 as my heart rate was dropping to 33. Thought I was really fit! However after I had it fitted I had problems with running comfortably, it felt as if I was running with a plastic bag over my head. The pacemaker dept did a considerable amount of tweaking until I was able to run within my own fit constraints. The pace maker is set to kick in at 50 BPM however with  top cover at 150. However recently it feels as if I am back to square one with my running. After about 3 miles I get in to such oxygen debt I have to stop to recover. My pulse rate is approx 160 without going that fast! I have been a runner all my life so it is not that I am unfit. Fortunately I have an appointment on 12 March for my yearly check up with the pacing team. On recommendations to flag up? Thanks.




by Tracey_E - 2019-03-02 11:48:12

Why did you get the pacer? Do you have sick sinus and pace atrial, or av block and pace ventricle? The answer to that will affect my reply :)  But the bottom line is if your rate can only go up to 150 now and you need higher than that, you are going to feel like you have a bag over your head when you push to the point you need your rate higher than 150. 

Google your device and see what its upper limit is. Most of them go to 180, a few do 220. At least one of the MRI compatible ones only does 150 but I can't imagine them giving one of those to an athlete. 


by Fencer - 2019-03-02 13:01:47

Hi Tracey,

thank you for your swift reply, the model pacemaker I have is a Medtronic A3DRO1  DDDR the reason for the pacemaker was my pulse rate was missing a beat and dropping down to 30 BPM. I have run all my life including going to the Olympics so I thought I would have been in decent shape. The Doc told me the spark plug had been worn out. I start off running OK then it just creeps up on me at the 3 mile mark and then I am in deep stress. Any recommendations I need to take to the pacing clinic would be welcome.



Medtronic A3DRO1

by AgentX86 - 2019-03-02 13:29:09

Hi Fencer,  You can look up the manuals for pacemakers on the Medtronic site and read up on what the device is capable of doing.  I looked for your model (A3DRO1) and didn't find anything.  Are you sure this is correct?

It is probably correct

by IAN MC - 2019-03-02 13:51:07

I have the same model, the Medtronic A3DR01 . It is sold as the " Medtronic Advisa " and the upper limit is 220.

I see from your mode setting that you have Rate Response switched on. It is POSSIBLE that it is an  RR adjustment problem ( you may even need it switching off ) but RR seems unlikely to be the cause of the problem if you can run for 3 miles . You need to ask what your Maximum RR sensor setting is.

Someone recently described how turning off " Rate Optimisation" helped with a similar problem. I would recommmend that you :-

I) Insist on having a treadmill test while wired up for an ECG ( but  I  see you are in the UK and persuading the NHS to let you run for 3 miles to simulate the problem may prove difficult.)

ii)  Also , if all else fails ask for a Medtronic engineer to get involved with the test. I did and it helped my running BUT , if you do have chronotropic incompetence,  your present level of performance MAY be as good as it gets.

Best of luck



In the know

by Gotrhythm - 2019-03-02 18:33:56

It helps to know what to call things. From your description of how your doctor explained your need for a pacemaker --"the doc told me the spark plug had worn out"--It sounds like you got a pacemaker because the sinus node (what the doctor called the spark plug) located in the right atrium (the top right chamber of your heart) isn't working well.

Ask your doctor to be sure, but it sounds like you have sinus node dysfunction, or your doctor might call it sick sinus syndrome. You are being paced primarily in the atrium.


by PhilUK - 2019-03-04 13:59:03

I was in a similar position with my bpm dropping to 30. When my PM was fitted I slowly began hiking again but found I was really struggling for my breath. I found out 12 months later my PM was on default setting at 130bpm. I was told the PM would actually misfire my heart not allowing above 130bpm. I now have it at 150bpm but am finding I am hitting that limit also now. As said, they can go 180bpm which is where I now want mine to be. The thing I found, some techs know the pms inside out, others know nothing....

Good luck

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