new pacemaker

hi, I have just had a pacemaker fitted on Tuesday and sent home yesterday.  It all happened very quickly as I was diagnosed with heart block and admitted urgently for this as I had 2 blackouts, dizzy every day and breathless.  I didn't know anything about pacemakers before and so don't know what is 'normal' after surgery, or something I need to call the doctor about.

In the past I suffered slightly from sleep apnea [not diagnosed but my husband noted the symptoms and it usually happened when I was sleeping on my back], I suffered a verystrong  scary episode tonight where I woke up soaked in perspiration, trying to catch my breath and a tightness and pressing feeling in my chest.  I was sleeping slightly sitting up on my back due to worrying about trying on my side and dislodging the leads.  I'm now very scared to go back to sleep!  Is this usual or should I see the doc tomorrow?  What about trying to sleep on my side, would it dislodge the leads so early on after op?  Any advice would really be appreciated.


7 Comments

Leads are Secure

by KonaLawrence - 2019-07-11 04:19:33

Hi Teddi,

Don't worry too much about your leads.  Surgeons have told me they always leave an inch or two of slack in the leads so they cannot be accidentally pulled out.  They do instruct you to be careful raising your surgery side arm for a few weeks, but that's mostly so your incision can heal, not out of worry about the leads.

You will have pains in your chest.  That's the surgery site trying to heal.  It will, but it will be very sore for a couple weeks or so.  About the only reason to call your doctor is if there are signs of infection at the surgery site.  Same as a cut on your finger, an infection causes swelling and oozing.  Infections are very rare.

As for sleeping on your side.  It may well be too uncomfortable to lay on your pacemaker surgery side, but you should be just fine laying on the other side.  I was uncomfortable sleeping on my surgery side for months.  I still slept on the other side.  After a year I can now sleep on either side.

Sleep Apnea is not something to ignore.  It increases stress on the heart and contributes to major cardiovascular problems, like Heart Attack!  I have Sleep Apnea and heart rhythm problems (AFib) and in the last couple of years Heart Block, enter my pacemaker.  Sleep Apnea may cause all of these heart problems.  Did it cause some of mine?  Who knows, but it's treatable.  Tell your doctor about what your husband observed and if he agrees, please get a sleep study.

Good Luck on your recovery.  
Cheers, Lawrence

Leads are OK, sleeping not

by Theknotguy - 2019-07-11 14:12:31

Past discussions on this forum is that you would have to be in a very serious auto accident to dislodge the leads.  And it you were in such an accident, you'd have bigger things to worry about than a dislodged lead.  Most dislodged leads happen due to the leads not being properly placed and the heart muscle just works the lead out of its placement.  

However your sleep apnea situation is a much bigger concern and I strongly suggest you get a sleep study or whatever is equivalent it the UK before you have a heart attack or stroke.  Waking up in a sweat because you are straining so hard to breath is a sign of advanced  sleep apnea and you are in serious danger.  

They've made great strides in working with CPAP machines and there is no reason why you would have to suffer any longer.  

Please, Sleep Study ASAP

by CatDad - 2019-07-11 18:44:11

I've had a dislodged lead and I've had severe apnea. If I had to endure either one again it'd be the dislodged lead. I too well remember waking with panic attacks from the apnea.

 

No Need for Anxiety over Sleep Apnea

by KonaLawrence - 2019-07-12 04:05:46

Hi Again Teddi,
What the other members say about Sleep Apnea is true, it is serious.  You should get a Sleep Study to find out how much you have and some indication of the cause.  But it is not an emergency and there is no need to worry.  Sleep Apnea is often aggravated by sleeping on the back.  If you can force yourself to sleep only on your side, the Sleep Apnea will probably be reduced.  This would be a good thing for you to do while you are waiting for your Sleep Study.  This may well be what your husband noticed, i.e. that you snore when sleeping on your back.  When you roll onto your side the snoring probably stops.  Snoring is highly associated with Sleep Apnea.  In any case, Good Luck.
Cheers, Lawrence

thank you

by teddi - 2019-07-12 04:36:01

Thank you all very much for taking the time to contact me, I really appreciate it.  I hope I am putting this response in correctly as I'm a bit of a technophobe and have never been on a forum before!    You have reassured me about the pacemaker and I will speak asap to my GP about the sleep apnea.  It gave me the confidence to get onto my right side last night and I managed to sleep for a few hours with no apnea - the first in the last 10 nights, so I am much more confident today that I can cope.  Thank you again

Try adding a pillow in front of you?

by atiras - 2019-07-14 06:37:42

Glad you're sleeping better.  I cannot sleep on my back -- never have been able to without breathing problems.  I found it most comfortable in the weeks after my PM went in (last autumn) to sleep on my right side with a pillow in front of me and my left arm draped over the pillow -- it prevented me tucking my left arm under the pillor (which is my normal sleeping position) but also gave me confidence that I wouldn't roll onto the scar.

thank you

by teddi - 2019-07-16 05:37:55

hi atiras, thanks for the tip.  I did that and am now having a much better night, just got to get used to the pacemaker kicking in when my pulse drops low, first time it happened in the middle of the night it woke me up with a great thump and fright!  Getting much easier now and when I go to my cardio apointment they will check it and see if any adjustments are needed.  Have taken myself off the meds they gave me when I left hospital - Ramipril - they were making me feel much worse, blurred vision, dizzy, inability to concentrate and sensitive to noise among the rest!  I gather it's given to lower the blood pressure mainly and as mine is too low most of the time anyway it wasn't helping.  I monitor blood pressure several times a day and will see the doc about other alternatives if it does go up but so far so good.

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Pacemakers are very reliable devices.