Early in my battle with atrial fib my heartrate could go as high as 200 sporadic beats per minute. Doctors tried anti-arrhythmia drugs, none of which worked. Some caused more AFib, some had side effects causing joint pain or flu-like symptoms. My only protection against stroke was the blood thinner warfarin.
I asked my electrophysiologist, “Why not a pacemaker? Wouldn’t that make the rapid heartbeat slow down and regulate the heart?”
A pacemaker only adjusts the heart rate when it’s too slow, not when it is too fast. Most people don’t know that. I didn’t.
Two adjustments occurred to previous statements:
- When an anti-arrhythmia drug was found to work for me, it did lower my heartrate, not only when I was experiencing atrial fib, but all of the time. So, my resting rate went from 52 beats per minute to 40. I was tired most of the time, but probably safer.
- The pacemaker can go faster than its setting rate during exercise. My pacemaker is set at a resting rate of 60 beats per minute. It never goes lower. Since the cardiac ablation my heart rate only goes higher as I increase my level of activity. After a few minutes on the treadmill or the bike, it’s likely to go up to 100 steady beats until the exercise ends and my pulse goes back to a resting rate. It’s the amazing technology of today’s pacemakers.
Read next week’s blog for more about pacemakers and how I came to have 3 of them.
Learn more from my memoir IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib
In a Heartbeat is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
The book is also available at Barnes & Noble as a paperback and Nook book.
Digital versions are available on Kobo and iTunes.
Soon available as audio book.