Police officer UK


I am a police officer and collapsed at work last month, found to be in third degree heart block - age 31 with my heart going at 21! I was given an emergency pacemaker two days later. I have already done several years frontline. My cardiologist states that contact sports and martial arts type contact with a pacemaker is not recommended and also states that nights are not good for overall health. Obviously this pacemaker is working as a constant thing. 

Is anyone else in the profession? Particularly in England and Wales? What happened with you? 

Also since the op I can be sat and go a little perhaps light headed (nothing major it just makes me feel a bit strange for a few seconds every so often) - is this when the pacemaker is pacing? 

Thanks, Steph 


Welcome officer!

by Lavender - 2024-02-03 22:14:49

Hi there. You should not feel the pacemaker working. You might not be accustomed to your heart beating so fast and consistently. Usually the beats per minute is initially set a bit higher until your leads(wires) settle in. Mine was turned back to 60 bpm after five weeks. 

My son is a police officer who works a lot of double shifts. He always did a lot of overnights too. I know he got used to it, but his new department works them 7am til 11pm. I know he's more comfortable now getting sleep at night like most people. He doesn't have a pacemaker. 

I do think any sport that would give a kick to the pacemaker area is not going to work for you. 😉

Thank you for your service!

by USMC-Pacer - 2024-02-04 00:42:16

Yeah you don't want to get kicked or punched on the device. More than likely, it would hurt you more than the device, but why take the chance. I assume you wear a protective vest so that should help prevent any hits. If you are staying on the job, I would concentrate on staying in tip top shape via cardio and weight training especially to assertain if your settings are adjusted optimally. The last thing you want is to get into a scuffle with a d'bag and be limited by your device. Stay safe out there :)

Ex-police here

by PapaMike - 2024-02-04 09:31:13

Hi, I was in the police until a few years ago when I left to retrain as a paramedic. UK, England.

Did firearms, public order, response and neighbourhood, and later NPPF Sgt, all without any issues with the PM. I've lost count of the times I've had to roll around with PICS, I've policed football violence, I was on a serial during the 2011 riots, warrants, foot chases, the lot. The only problem I ever had was the Axon BWV when worn directly over the device made me feel a bit off, but wearing it on the other side was absolutely fine. 

In my personal time I ride motorbikes, train triathlon, I have used chainsaws, I weld, I even did taekwondo for 4 years or so. 

The PM should not be a factor in why you can't do your job or live your life. I too was 31 when I had my pm for 3rd degree heart block, I'm 46 now. 

As for nights being generally detrimental to your health, well I could not agree more, but that is the same for everyone regardless of having a PM or not.

Any questions, feel free to ask awsy.

not a cop

by dwelch - 2024-02-17 04:11:00

I am not an officer nor know any, but I have had third degree heart block since birth and had pacers for the last 36 years.

In my case by the time the doc decided it was time for a pacer my resting rate was in the mid 40s and rate at sleep in the 30s.  My heart had grown to the point that you could see the beats between my ribs and I could hear every beat in my ear and that was my normal. 

When number one was put in it was this eerie silence and it took me several months to get over that and adapt.  So you maybe dont have it that extreme, but you may feel weird for the first months or year.

You have IMO the best heart problem you can have if you had to have a heart problem.  The pacer is not  something you feel working (other than the kind of thing I describe above as the change in rate or other side effects of now having a normal operating heart).  With complete block the pacer is "working" almost every beat, 60 or more times a minute, literally every second.  When you start going in this year for your first interrogations the report (ask for your copy) you should be paced at 99% or 100% on your ventrical lead.  That is normal for us with complete heart block, and nothing to fear, does not mean that if the pacer turns off we die as clearly you didnt, and when they do the interrogation the test where it feels like someone is sitting on your chest, they turned the pacer off to look at your underlying rythm, and note that you didnt die when it was off...FYI.

Anyway, the pacer is fixing your block, the broken electrical connection and making you "normal".  So from that perspective you are in better shape to be an officer or any other job than you were before.

The device is tougher than you, you will get hurt first.  Other than TV shows with basically actors in uniform, I dont know much about the UK police.  Certainly in the USA we have more guns than people and the police tend to have handguns, shotguns and/or rifles on ther person or in their vehicles.  One reason I was told for left shoulder placement was to be able to shoot a rifle with the right shoulder as most right handers would with most folks being right handed.  Dont know if that is a thing for you there.  The police in the usa that I see first hand tend to have a lot of gear on including a vest.  While the shoulder is not what that vest is there to protect nor likely armored it should still provide additional protection.  

A bad actor could hit you in the nose or other places that are fragile as well as the pacer location.  and they wouldnt know you have one to hit.  So from a work perspective I assume or lets say in my opinion, the pacer makes you normal, full stop.

As far as sports, or even just day to day life, you do have this thing that is literally like a rock and hard place if you hit it or even touch it hard.  My wife and daughters heads are perfectly aligned at pacer height and if they hug me on that side it hurts so they have learned not to.   I have taken two very hard hits to the area and no issues, dumb luck perhaps.

I would worry about heavy backpacks, sports like american football even with the pads the hits that are taken to the shoulder.  Martial arts yes, basketball, maybe soccer.  Fortunately being in the UK and driving on the wrong side of the road (lol) you dont have the seatbelt problem.  I use one of those fuzzy fake sheepskin looking seat belt pads that rides on the belt to manage that discomfort.  

I dont understand what the nights comment is about.  Now there are I believe settings for night vs day, but the doctor can control that and I have had pacers for 36 years and they didnt have that (along with the disturbing empty feeling after my heart was fixed, I was also jacked up to 60bpm minimum so it took a good part of that year learning to fall asleep again).  You can have your settings be the same for day and night if you work night shifts some time or all the time. I cant possibly see that being a reason to affect your job.  

I see nothing, nothing REAL, where having a pacemaker affect your job as a police officer.  Some undeducated (and sadly the vast majority of the world IS uneducated) may have false fears that may lead to company policies, and you may have to deal with that.    Having a pacer may, yes, affect your hobbies and sports, primarily for contact/protection reasons, but there are ways you can armor or pad against that.  One/some kinds of welding is supposedly a no-no.  The power industry, but usually need to literally hug a transformer or a large power generator to have it affect the device.  I assume hugging transformers is not a hobby or sport of yours.

Just like you have a natural tendency to protect your face or other specific parts of your body if someone intentionally or accidentally is aiming for it.  You will have a tendency to protect the device too, so playing football if that is something you do might not need any padding/armor you will be protecting yourself anyway.

Kids can be fun their sharp elbows and knees and pointy toes and skulls are rough on pacers and they dont remember that they cant touch you there, that quickly trains you to protect/defend.

As of this writing you are still recoverying from the surgery, and still getting used to it,the light headed fellings maybe you not being used to it working so well or you may not be used to having a higher rate at rest, when relaxing.  The devices have logs and you should be going in soon for an interrogation or if you have a take home box if there were any issues they should hopefully see those.  my first one was decades ago and we went through a number of adjustments to get it working right but todays pacers dont need that much hand tuning...

If this feeling persists, make a note, ask the doc, dont wait for the next visit if it happens often or is uncomfortable enough.  With your condition the pacer should make you "normal" with a smoothly operating heart.

Device number one and its recovery is all new to you so it takes the longest, plus the addition of the getting used to how your heart feels now, and any mental health adjustments that come from this event or having this broken thing in your body that needed a repair. 

Give yourself another few weeks to get most of the way through the physical recovery.  Give yourself many months to get used to the newly timed heart that works better than ever.  Even after decades there are still those moments where you feel something and stop and wonder, did something just happen?  But you move on, it was fine.  

Welcome to the club, sorry you needed to join. 

Myself and others here started young as well and you will be a old pro at this before long.  Ask al the questions you need.  One could argue that collectively we have more experience than any one doctor could  ever see...





You know you're wired when...

You have a $50,000 chest.

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Life does not stop with a pacemaker, even though it caught me off guard.