Initial Recovery

Good morning,

I unexpectedly was in complete heart block on Sunday and received my pacemaker on Monday at age 49.

Just curious, how long does it take to feel better - both recovered from the surgical site and for your heart to find its new normal?  Meaning, I formally had a resting heart rate in the 50’s. My pacemaker is set for 60, but I’m fluctuating more than usual between 60 and 80ish.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance! 



heart rate above 60 bpm

by zawodniak2 - 2019-03-14 12:55:15

A  good sign that you are 60 bpm or more.  If you got a rate-responsive pacemaker you will see rates above 60 based on your activity level.  Being that you were in complete heart block-CONGRATULATIONS on wasting no time on getting your new buddy.  Your surgical site will heal gradually with proper care.  You are on the road to a normal life!


Thank you

by Shana - 2019-03-14 20:07:56

Thanks Rodger!

Appreciate your positive outlook.



by cmoser3558 - 2019-03-14 21:05:17

Like youself, I had complete heart block. I'm 60 and had pacemaker surgery one month ago. Right now, I am doing everything I did before surgery. My doctor told me that I could start running 3 days after the surgery and lifting weights 1 month later. I have followed his advice and I have no complaints or concerns. I'm still shocked that I needed a pacemaker. But I'm not going to let it affect my life in a negative fashion.


by Shana - 2019-03-14 21:33:34

You were able to run three days out. That’s impressive!

I was directed to wait a bit longer, but very excited to get back to cardio.

Thank you for the inspiration. 


by Jmiller - 2019-03-15 01:02:33

I've had a PM/ICD since 2009, currently 61.   Recovery should be quick,  I started out with secondary heart block but now am full block.   You should find you will heal fast and will be off doing you normal activites in no time.   I have to say I spent a lot of time worring about my pulse rate but found these devices work great and just try and forget you have one and live.  The intial healing is important but after 6 weeks I was off playing golf and ice hockey.   Good luck with your new device.

Me too

by Newbie4444 - 2019-03-16 10:18:27

I just got mine place on the eighth for unexpected third-degree heart block also. I to have a resting heart rate in the 50s. They set my pacemaker for 50. I am 37 and pretty active. I felt awful for the first 4-5 days. Really awful. I even could feel the flutter in my chest when the thing paced.  I noticed a huge improvement on day 6 and went without any pain meds. Hang in there- after 1 week you will start to feel human again! I’m still eager to get back to the gym, and eager to lift my arm above my shoulder so I can do my hair again. But I’ll just have to wait the 6 weeks for that ...


by Shana - 2019-03-16 11:54:17

Thanks to you both for normalizing. I think my pacemaker is set too high. I generally am resting in my mid to lower 50’s. I bet that adjustment will help me feel better. That and time. 

Newbie, like you, I can’t wait to hit the gym with my arm in full capacity ;)

Have a great day everyone! Thank you, again.



Six weeks

by Queen50 - 2019-03-17 10:47:24

 Welcome to the club. I am 1 year out since my pm implantation and I took 6 weeks to feel like normal. I read in here that that was the turn around point. I’m glad to hear about the previous response was 3 days but mine was longer. Thought I’d mention it because we all heal differently. I had an ablation 5 days prior to getting my pm. So there are different scenarios for many of us.  Hoping you’re feeling a bit better each day. Be kind to yourself. 


by Shana - 2019-03-18 01:44:25

Thanks Queen50. 

Glad to hear there is quite the range. I’m looking forward to week 6 ;)


it varies

by dwelch - 2019-03-21 03:51:23

now when I got my first one over 30 years ago they werent as fancy and it took a number of visits that year a holter or two to get it dialed in, something that you dont have to do anymore some of that is done by the pacer automatically now and the pacers log other stuff so for those things you dont need to try to catch them with holter.  I am on number five though so have done this a few times...

It varies.

The surgery itself is in units of weeks.  Within those weeks various things get better at different times, some of us, esp on or second or Nth one are ready to start driving in a couple of days with the good arm mostly.  I dont bother with the pain meds other than what they give me at the hospital, dont take pills after...not an iron man thing just dont make the thing hurt so much and it wont.  also have done this a few times now.  things like sleeping through the night that may take days to weeks.   sleeping on that side that is likely weeks, probably not the first week maybe the second.  thats part of the not sleeping through the night you turn over like you normally would without waking up but wow that hurts now you are awake, sit up, wait for that to pass, try again. or you sleep on the non pacer side and that side starts to ache from sleeping on it and trying not to move at all to keep the pacer side from hurting.  maybe if I took a bunch of pain pills my answer might be different.

using that arm to wash your hair or brush it, etc.  sometimes they tell you not to do that for weeks/months.  the pain will guide you each day as to how far you can lift that arm and then move it around.  thats another second or third week thing.

The leads take some period of time weeks at least if not months to form a scab and electrically settle in.  The pacer should have enough margin to handle this but this is why you often have a post-op visit a few weeks after then one a few months after, part of the reason why they also want to lay eyes on the site to see it is healing and do other stuff.  But saying that your heart should settle into the new pacer immediately if it is setup right, its not the heart settling that is the problem.

the mental adjustment, this can take months maybe the whole first year or more, depends heavily on you.  No matter how many articles you read here, you too will often have a panic..did that static shock on the light switch mess with my pacer.  I bumped it, that hurt, did that mess with it do I need to call the doc just in case.  there is a lot of the "is this normal" stuff.  And depending on your condition there might be the "I feel strange all the time" stuff.  Because your heart was always working bad and is now always working well.  I had a lot of that and seem to remember a good chunk of the first year to mentally adjust.  But even 30 years in you still get that "hmm is something strange going on there"...

having a min and max heart rate in particular the min when trying to learn to sleep again may or may not take adjustment. 

depending on the type and how good the rate response is some folks take time to get used to that.  

it will take months at least to stop bumping it on things and be quick to defend it.  it still gets bumped from time to time though and can really hurt.

over 30 years with pacers and that damn seat belt....women who wear them have the added problem of that damned bra strap...


by angkbee58 - 2019-03-23 22:25:47

Hope you're feeling better after your procedure.

I am in my 7th week and I just started feeling good about 2 weeks ago. I have been increasing my physical activity every week and trying to build some endurance.

This past week, I especially feel like I have more energy than before my surgery.

I think women have a rougher recovery than men. Our anatomy of the upper body is different and I believe that it makes it a bit more painful for some of us.

It just depends on the person. I am 58 and I felt like the pain was pretty bad the first week. I wasn't given pain meds. I took Aleve and alternating Tylenol for the pain. It took the edge off for me.

I am sure you were surprised you had to get one. The speed at which you had your pacemaker implanted surely stressed you out.

I hope you continue to get better every day. Keep us all posted.

Thanks DWelch and Ang

by Shana - 2019-03-23 23:49:49

Thanks to you both!

It’s helpful to hear the variation in recovery.

Getting closer to the two week mark and I felt better today. Less chest pressure/aching. Still more fatigue than expected, but I’m likely working more than I should. 

Planning to hit the gym tomorrow. I still can’t seem to catch my breath walking on hills - but expect that to come back in time.

Funny, I haven’t been stressed about the pacemaker. It was clear that there wasn’t a choice ... I just keep moving forward with learning my new normal.

Looking forward to driving again tomorrow ;)

Have a great rest of your weekend. 


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Member Quotes

I've seen many posts about people being concerned about exercise after having a device so thought I would let you know that yesterday I raced my first marathon since having my pacemaker fitted in fall 2004.