Here at Heart Sisters World Headquarters, I’m often contacted by readers with impertinent questions like: “Why don’t you ever write about ______?” (insert your own specific diagnosis here). One in particular was a 2015 reader question that read: “Why don’t you ever write about congenital heart defects?” On that particular morning, I was feeling tired, sick and “grumpy” (as our little Everly Rose calls every feeling she has that’s not happy). I wanted to snap back at this reader that I’m not running the Encyclopedia Britannica here…
But in a remarkable coincidence – and luckily before I had a chance to snap – on that very day, another reader named Aletha happened to share with me her own amazing story as an adult living with a heart condition she’d had since birth. That weekend, I ran my first ever blog post about this cardiac condition, called “ When babies with congenital heart defects grow up“.
And recently, a similar reader contact reminded me that I’ve never covered the topic of cardiac pacemakers – until now.
There are many credible sources of clinical information about what cardiac pacemakers do and who needs them (the Ottawa Heart Institute, for example, has a solid patient-friendly guide).
Basically, a pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms by usin g steady elec trical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate again. Someti mes, this little device is a dual-purpose lifesaver, functioning as both pacemaker and ICD ( implantable cardioverter defibrillator ). This cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) can be delivered as a pacemaker only, or in combination with an ICD. An ICD on its own continually monitors heart rhythm and can send low- or high-energy electrical pulses to correct an abnormal heart rhythm that might otherwise result in sudden cardiac arrest.
To learn what real heart patients are saying about real life with a real pacemaker, there’s no more practical Q&A overview than what is freely available in patient communities. Here’s just a sampling from a number of “pacers” themselves:
Q: I am a 59-year old female, had a pacemaker placement nine weeks ago. I am still so weak, it’s all I can do to do basic tasks. I feel like I should be feeling better by now. I will see the cardiologist on Friday hoping they can give me some answers. They keep saying they are going to adjust the settings, but they have not done so. I am very disappointed in the progress that I have made in nine weeks. I am wondering have any of you pacers experienced weakness and fatigue this? Please tell me it gets better from here.