PM at 24 years old - Syncope episodes and 20 second heart pauses

Hey all, just here to see if anyone has had an experience similar to mine that might know more than I do. I started having syncope episodes about 4 months ago with no prior warning/history/anything. After 3 episodes I went to the cardiologist and he was pretty convinced they were vasovagal episodes due to the consistentcy of them (all first thing in the morning while or immediately after taking a hot shower). Then things started to change. I had 3 more episodes at work while sitting at my desk in the afternoon. While all of this was going on, I'd had multiple EKG's, an echocardiogram, tilt table test, holter monitor, and an MRI of my heart and none of them showed anything out of the ordinary. We got to the point that the cardiologist said the only way we were going to figure anything out was if I had a longer term heart monitor on when one of these syncope episodes occured. He put a Zio patch on me and sure enough about a week later I had 2 syncopes episodes in the same day and sent the device back in. I went in to see the EP the next week and he told me the Zio patch had captured both episodes and that my heart had stopped for 20 seconds both times and that he wanted to put in a pacemaker the next day...needless to say that was a lot to process at once. Told him I needed some time to think about all of it but ended up getting a pacemaker a few days later. The EP was confident that this would fix the problem (it seems to have so far!) but was still baffled as to what the cause might be. He said it has elements of a few different diagnoses but doesn't check the box for any single one in particular.  All the episodes were about 2 weeks apart, I had very little or no warning before passing out and was extremely disoriented after regaining consciousness, especially the first few times. I'm a healthy, active 24yr old guy and I'm just struggling to understand why all of this has happened. Has anyone's experience sounded similar in anyway? Just looking for any insight at all that could possibly help, thanks.


Hang in there!

by happy2bealive - 2019-09-03 21:35:13

Same thing happened to me. Fit 32 yr old guy, had zero clue I had a problem. Long story - but found my way wearing a holter that was catching pauses, but they still wanted to monitor me. Syncope put the cardiologist over the edge to give me one. 4 months later I'm SO thankful I have one. At first I was pretty freaked out, but once they get the settings correct it is a total gamechanger! 

I'm no doctor, but if your heart is stopping, and your have syncope...then PM is not a death sentence, it's a new lease on life.



by AgentX86 - 2019-09-03 22:58:12

First, welcome to the group.  You're in the right place to learn about your new friend.  Keep him close.   ;-)

You'll likely never know why your sinus node just stops but why really isn't all that important.  The fact is that it does and the only "cure" is a pacemaker.  A pacemaker isn't a death sentence but being without one, and with regular 20-second pauses might just be.  You're fortunate that you didn't get seriously hurt with that many syncope episodes.  It only takes one...

Knowing the possible causes may not improve things...

by crustyg - 2019-09-04 04:49:08


The person to have asked is your EP doc.  You've been told that there are elements of a few different diagnoses, but not enough to confirm a single diagnosis. If you really want to know what these possible diagnoses might be then you need to ask.

But as a retired pathologist I can tell you that being able to read the mind of your medical advisors (most of the time) isn't so great.  They ask for some blood tests and next minute you're checking your will as any of the possible diagnoses from that clutch of tests suggest a time to expiry of <2 years.  And so it goes on.  More knowledge doesn't guarantee mental peace.

My guess is that you feel bounced into the PM.  There is a BIG mental adjustment to having a box implanted inside you that influences a lot of your life.  And over time you begin to ignore it, or have a gentle reminder that it's the reason you're still here and able to enjoy life, as there are very, very few things that you can't do once you have a PM.  Some of the Armed Forces stuff, some extreme sports and contact competitions, but apart from that it's all systems go.

It takes time - I'm only 3 months in - but with a positive mental attitude you really will come to realise that you've nearly forgotten that you are wired!

Sounds familar

by Jeffand - 2019-09-07 01:28:33

Sounds just like me. Syncope at 36, implantable loop recorder found a 16 second pause when I passed out on an airplane. Regular runner, pretty descent shape. Just happens. I’m 3 years into my pacemaker, haven’t passed out since. I largely forget about it. Sure it’s not fun to get one, but largely my life hasn’t changed at all. Still run regularly. 

You know you're wired when...

You have a new body part.

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