Unexpected Medical Emergency

My simple update and pacer scan for any issues turned into a full-blown Emergency Room (ER) all-day real-world crisis.  I don’t have a heartbeat and my heart pacer beats my heart for me at 60 BPM at the lowest setting.  The tech wired me up and was running a full diagnostic test of my pacer.  I warned her not to go below 40 bpm as I didn’t have a heartbeat.  Well, the tech went below 40 BPM and my heart stopped and I slumped over just like 3 years ago during cardiac arrest.


Luckily the tech called for help and I was quickly surrounded by several RNs ripping my clothes off and racing me downstairs to the ER team that was notified I was coming in cold with no heartbeat.  Thank God for the A-team a young tech jumped on top of me and quickly checked a pulse.  NO pulse, he started CPR cracking a few ribs but it restarted my heart and the other RNs wired me up with pads to electrocute me back to life if needed.  The cracked ribs brought me back as my heart pacer had time to reboot and took over pacing my heart at 60 BMP.


I had lost consciousness for how long I am not sure but long enough for my body to start shutting down major systems like speech, sight, feel, and hearing just like 3 years ago.  At first, they thought I had a blood clot in my brain but realized the tech shut me down not knowing what would happen.  Spent all day in the heart ER getting my hearing, sight, feeling, and speech back.  The ER department drew lots of blood, chest X-rays, and CT scan of my head to ensure I did not have a blood clot as I am on blood thinners.


Late in the afternoon the cardiac and ER doctors released me to return home.  I failed the pacer diagnostic test as we did not finish it.  Doctors said I had enough excitement for one day the pacer clinic would contact me and reschedule another day to finish my diagnostic tests.


I am home now, but my chest hurts like hell, even breathing makes it hurt with the cracked ribs.  Nothing like going to a hospital healthy and returning home beat up.  Doctors did check my pacemaker in the ER and it is working okay.


My bride of 47 years is a wreck tonight, I was wearing my heart pacer dog tags with her contact data and my pacer make and model on it.  It paid off having the exact data the doctors needed to help me when I could not talk.  Seems I am fully recovered except for my cracked ribs.


I prepared to go to the hospital with a cell phone, changer, iPod, etc. as it is always an adventure.  It paid off again being prepared for the worst with my dog tags and pacer card handy.


Not sure what the outcome will be with the pacer clinic tech, but it seems to be a lack of training or compliancy turning my 100% paced heart below 40 BPM and my heart and pacer stopping.  I am hoping there is a lesson here the hospital staff can learn from.

Just happy to still be here.


no heartbeat

by new to pace.... - 2024-02-07 11:23:23

So sorry to hear, glad you are ok now. 

Hope that that tech has lost her job.

new to pace

Aww that is horrible 😫

by Lavender - 2024-02-07 12:04:12

You told the tech not to do this!! You would think that's an order and you didn't agree to this part of the pacemaker check!! Geez!

Two pacemaker checks ago, I warned the tech not to take me down there. Well he called in the cardiologist and laid me on a table and dialed me down. I warned them that I was losing consciousness, felt panic and heard the cardiologist say that he could no longer find my pulse as I was blacking out. Then they turned up the dial and brought me back. 

The cardiologist said they're never to do this part of the pacemaker check again. The last time I went for my pacemaker check, they did not do this at my request but went and brought in the cardiologist to verify that was ok.
The cardiologist stayed present telling them not to do it.

I am totally dependent on my CRT-P. I don't have an escape rhythm. I'm sorry this happened to you. You poor thing having painful cracked rubs.  

Us Too

by Good Dog - 2024-02-07 12:25:19

I cringed as I read your post! Just want you to know that we too are so glad you are still here!!! We want you around for a long time to come! I know how much broken ribs hurt. It makes it difficult to move. Hang in there!! Hope you have a quick recovery!



What an Ordeal!

by SeenBetterDays - 2024-02-07 12:28:15

Hi Stache, that sounds like an incredibly harrowing experience. I'm so sorry you had to go through all that, especially when you went in expecting nothing more than a pacemaker check. I really wish that medical staff would take on board patient comments. You obviously know your body best and have previous experience which suggests that your body is highly sensitive to the pacing checks. Like you, I am pacemaker dependent and don't fare well during the pacemaker checks. I would be interested to know club member views as to the necessity for the heart deceleration check for pacemaker dependent patients. If there is previously no evidence of an intrinsic heart beat, is there any benefit to stressing the heart in this way at each pacemaker check. I really feel for you Stache and hope your ribs heal soon. I can imagine that must be extremely sore. Sending you best wishes for a full recovery and hoping for no more dramatic experiences in the ER! Thinking of you.


by Gemita - 2024-02-07 12:56:07

Stache, You deserved better than that.  What a terrible experience just because they wanted to know what your intrinsic heart rate was up to.  Clearly not that much and you have paid a heavy price once again.

I believe we are able to refuse treatment and that must include testing for intrinsic heart rate, especially after your potentially life threatening experience.  This should be formally reported and a warning placed on your medical records.  Your comment in your earlier post should have been recorded:  "Since I am totally dependent on my pacer with a dead sinus node the only test they do not perform is turning my pacer down.  The tech did this once and I fell out of the chair and had to be jump started", so this is clearly not the first time this has happened!

I wish you well Stache and I hope you will soon be free from discomfort.  Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for living through your ordeal once more


by Gemita - 2024-02-07 14:38:18

I found this in a pacemaker technical manual:


When selecting the Intrinsic Rhythm button there is no support pacing for the duration the button is depressed. This test should not be performed with pacemaker-dependent patients. 

Intrinsic Rhythm (test) 

The sensing test can also be performed by selecting and holding down the Intrinsic Rhythm button. When pressed, Intrinsic Rhythm will test for an underlying rhythm but provide no back-up pacing support for the duration the button is depressed. 


by USMC-Pacer - 2024-02-07 15:42:26

If they no the person it dependent, they no there is no intrinsic rhythm, then why do the inisist on hitting that button? Is that something that can change?

It happened to me last year, though not as bad as this, but I was blacking out and hearing things, buzzing or something. I asked the tech to never do that again! I felt crappy for hours afterwards.. 

They still do it, but only for a second or two.. which I feel!


by Gemita - 2024-02-07 16:23:28

I am somewhat confused too although I see evaluation of the Intrinsic Rate/Rhythm at our outpatient clinic visit can help them to decide whether we might need temporary pacing at some time in the future during device replacement for example.  Maybe they are looking at things like this?  A stable Intrinsic Rate/Rhythm prior to a generator replacement is a good predictor of no indication for temporary pacing.  Intrinsic Rate/Rhythm may change.  

I'd be calling my lawyer over this

by crustyg - 2024-02-07 17:28:15

If I tell the EP-tech that I don't have an intrinsic HR, and they still go ahead and turn off my PM and I end up with cracked ribs, this is straightforward negligence.  No argument. And I would refuse to ever be in the same room as that EP-tech again, unless I received a full apology in person from the EP-tech with my lawyer present.

There are some actions that are just not sensible or safe and ignoring your specific instruction not to turn off your PM is one of them.  A bit like giving some penicillin IV to a patient whose notes clearly say 'Allergic to penicillin'.

Not acceptable.  Ever.

Do no harm

by piglet22 - 2024-02-08 04:34:09

Clearly not the case here.

Sounds like a case of medical arrogance and we know best.

To deliberately ignore your warnings and go ahead is inexcusable.

Accidents happen and we often sign consent forms acknowledging that, but this was totally beyond consent.

Craked ribs is bad enough and if a result of roadside cardiac arrest, that's fine, but in a medical setting after saying no?

I hope as soon as you recover you can get to the bottom of what went on from the hospital points of view.

If they claim up and close ranks, go public.

Good luck 

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