Scared the crap out of me. . .

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epstns

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Some of you remember from past posts that in late July we suffered the dreaded Chicago Flooded Basement at my house. We're gradually getting things back together - no serious damage, fortunately. Just a lot of cleaning and freshening up. Next weekend the rugs go back on the floor and we're about done. That should go fine. . . this weekend was the strange one.

One of the last things we wanted to do was to polish the paneling on the walls. The paneling is solid birchwood and runs from the floor up to 32" high, where there is a chair rail. Above the wood is the standard sheetrock and insulation. Well, the preliminary polishing was done and my wife asked me to go over the walls and doors one more time with a small, hand-held electric polisher. I started on the wall, working my way around the room. I was about half way finished (looked pretty good, too!) when I realized that my heart was racing! I was sweating profusely, even though it wasn't that hot down there. I immediately stopped what I was doing, got a big glass of cool water in case I was dehydrated, then went upstairs to "the cold room" - a small bedroom with a large air conditioner. I rested there for 10 or 15 minutes, and things settled down to normal.

As I pondered who to call, it dawned on me. I really didn't need to call anybody. My pacemaker has two types of "rate response." These are mechanisms by which the device senses what I'm doing and adjusts my heart rate accordingly. One of the two mechanisms is sensitive to bouncing, such as walking or running. It finally dawned on me that the pacemaker was reacting to the vibration of the polisher, transmitted through my arm, and interpreting the vibration as if I was running as fast as I could! So, the pacemaker did what it is supposed to do -- it revved up my heart rate to the max (150 BPM), even though I didn't need it. The result was the wierd overload and racing heart I felt. To test my theory, I went back downstairs and finished the job, using only my right hand to hold the polisher. No issues noted. It seemed worst when I held the polisher with only my left hand. It was there but not anywhere near as badly when I help the polisher with both hands, and the problem went away entirely when I used only my right hand. I guess the pacemaker, being so close to my left shoulder, was just too heavily affected to let things alone.

So - another lesson learned. Think three times about what I'm planning to do and how it may affect my body and all of its additional hardware.
 

Superbob

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Wow! -- we bionic types have to account for the working of our high-tech parts. Glad you got it figured out, Steve! :thumbup:
 

Julian

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Don't get me wrong, a pacemaker will keep you alive! It's a small price to pay for life but this kind of stuff is just annoying. That's cool that you figured out it was the vibrations setting it off. SIGH!
 

catwoman

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Steve:

Do you have an electrified fence? If so, avoid using a Weedeater around it. It'll do a number on your pacemaker.
A friend's dad did just that in New Jersey.
 

dtread

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Good for you for figuring it out. I've had no such problems so far despite using all manner of power tools such as saws, drills, etc and including a 70 lb jack hammer (a real no-no).
 

mamalu

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Wow, Steve. Good for you to have stopped, chilled out, and then figured it out! What is life if not a learning experience? Glad all is well.
 

Bina

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Steve, you were very smart to stop, drink water, cool down, and evaluate the situation.
Now stop scaring yourself and the rest of us. ;)
 

ElectLive

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Steve - Thanks for sharing. I happened to find out from my arrythmia center today that my pacemaker has some sort of motion awareness too. I will make note of your experience and start making a long list of chores around the house that should be avoided from here on out (mowing the lawn, etc) so as to not jeopardize my health...
 

epstns

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EL - I'm not advocating that we avoid the chores. (That could also mean avoiding some things we enjoy, hobbies, etc.) I'm recommending awareness as to how the activities might affect us now. I actually did finish the buffing job, but I did the majority of the remaining work with my right hand/arm. This was apparently enough isolation that the pacer was peaceful the remainder of the job.

Just for info, I have found that my pacer has two means by which it adjusts to my body's demands. The first one they enabled was the motion-sensor. This one senses movement, primarily up and down, like walking or running. My EP had this one turned on from the start. The second means is a respiratory sensor. I'm not sure just what it measures, but it is "aware" of my breathing rate, and if that rate increases, the pacer increases my heart rate as well. All of this happens within the parameters of my programmed minimum and maximum heart rates (currently set to 60 - 150 BPM). Some patients are well-served by one or the other mechanism. I wanted both, as the motion sensor worked well when walking or jogging, but not well on the stationary bike. The respiratory response feature took care of the bike, too.
 

Bina

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Steve - Thanks for sharing. I happened to find out from my arrythmia center today that my pacemaker has some sort of motion awareness too. I will make note of your experience and start making a long list of chores around the house that should be avoided from here on out (mowing the lawn, etc) so as to not jeopardize my health...
ElectLive, I like that idea too and have made a very long list of everything and anything that could set off my
SVT arrhythmia.... ha ha ha ;) more time to play on the computer.
 

ElectLive

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ElectLive, I like that idea too and have made a very long list of everything and anything that could set off my
SVT arrhythmia.... ha ha ha ;) more time to play on the computer.
That's the spirit. Steve seems to be missing a golden opportunity here. :)
 

epstns

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Not missing it. . . just know better than to take it too far. Got to use it where it gives the most benefit!
 

Michellemar

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Steve, I appreciate your post. While I don't have a pacemaker, when stuff happens to me I sit (lie) down and run the list...is this meds wrong meds psyched out psyche gluten sensitivity too much/too little exercise today ankles swollen? Etc. The combinations can still get me and just past 4 mos AVR. Unique
to see someone else in that do-the-math situation. I have double hip
replacements as well which also SO figures in. The bionic juggle. We're still just
newbies though, wet behind the ears. Wait till we are... A YEAR out! Michelle
 
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Roberdowski

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I have aortic and mitral valve replaced 12 years ago with a non mechanical valves. I didn’t want to be on blood thinners because I ride a motorcycle and didn’t want to get in a situation where I might have a problem with blood clotting after a fall.. I ended up having a fib and a stroke but I’ve completely recovered. So the Doctor put me on warfarin. Between 2-3 INR. Had a pacemaker/defer unit implanted and I now would like to know “would I still have to be on blood thinners?” Anybody have this sort of a situation? Thanks for any input. Bob A
 

Seaton

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Hi Bob
Just a suggestion, but it might be good to ask this question as a new and separate post/subject title, so it isn’t lost in this old thread.
 

pellicle

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I have aortic and mitral valve replaced 12 years ago with a non mechanical valves. I didn’t want to be on blood thinners because I ride a motorcycle and didn’t want to get in a situation where I might have a problem with blood clotting after a fall.. I ended up having a fib and a stroke but I’ve completely recovered. So the Doctor put me on warfarin. Between 2-3 INR. Had a pacemaker/defer unit implanted and I now would like to know “would I still have to be on blood thinners?” Anybody have this sort of a situation? Thanks for any input. Bob A
Bob, I wonder if you've been perhaps misinformed. I ride a motorcycle and an electric scooter (and an MTB). Keep your INR between 2 and 3 and unless you have a massive endo its no different.

If you have a massive enod (step off at speed) I doubt that warfarin or not will be the significant factor. It'll be how quickly they get you to ER

Come look around my area with me on my scooter

its a fun toy to play with (and I use it for local area transport and "last mile" in the capital city when I come down off the mountain for work during the week)
 
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epstns

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Bob - to think a bit about your question of whether or not you still require warfarin, let me ask "Did the pacemaker/defibrillator stop your afib occurrences?" If not, you probably still need the anticoagulation. Pacemakers themselves don't stop AFIB. They just keep our heart rates above a certain minimum, and if they are dual-chamber units, they help keep our hearts' chambers in synchronization.

If you are unsure, I would ask the doc who manages your pacemaker.
 
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