Cyclists with a pacemaker?

I was wondering if there are any cyclists out there that have a pacemaker? If so, what have you learned about how it relates to your cycling performance.

I recently found out (confirmed with testing) that I have an “electrical” condition with my heart.

I’ve had one since 2015. No problems, and no differences with training. Still ride a lot and do hard stuff.

However, the circumstances of mine were a bit odd. I got hit by a car in Lossburg, Germany (a lovely little village near Dornstetten, where my wife had taken a group of summer exchange students). Three hours after the accident, when the Polizei came to take my statement, I raised the head of the hospital bed and my heart stopped for 9 seconds. May have been a number of things to cause the stoppage. I’d had a couple of EKGs earlier that year after a syncope, but they were normal. A 24-hour EKG was normal in the Freudenstadt hospital, but the surgeons said nope, 9 seconds is 9 seconds, you’re now a transport risk in Germany, so we’re putting in a dual lead pacemaker. No flying back for a second opinion. So maybe I really needed it, maybe I didn’t, but there’s been nothing amiss in my twice-yearly data dumps since*.

Do what your cardiologist and pacemaker tech say you should/can do. Mine say do whatever, so I do whatever.

  • I only know enough German to swear at guys in races and function at a cafe stop or bike shop, so being in the hospital for several days was, well, an experience.

@RobertK Thanks for the response. I am happy that you have had an uneventful experience.

I have not talked to the doctor or the pacemaker tech yet, just a call from the doctor’s office after the data from a 7 day monitor was reviewed. I was pretty sure from the beginning that I was headed in that direction though.

In my quick internet search I ran across some discussion that seemed to suggest a particular brand of pacemaker that was targeted for endurance athletes. I do not know if that interpretation was correct or if the discussion was out of date but I thought it was interesting. Also there was discussion somewhere that seemed to say that details like max heart rate were programmable. I am guessing that some of these issues may not be applicable to all conditions that benefit from a pacemaker but again, I thought it was interesting.

I have a pacemaker due to an electrophysiological condition (Long QT Syndrome.) Similar to @RobertK I also ride a lot and train hard. I should note that for my condition, my pacemaker is really used mainly for its function as a defibrillator in the instance that I should have an “episode” (arrhythmia, ventricular fibrillation.)

You are right that the HR in which you are paced/shocked are programmable and I would make sure you at least know what yours is set at or perhaps you may be able to convince your doc/tech to bump yours higher to accommodate training. Because mine is really just looking for really crazy, chaotic fast beats that are indicative of an episode, the HR setting is much higher than I reach during a workout.

Cool to get some opinions, be aware that there are very large differences due to the exact medical condition for which you’d have a PM as well as ways to program them. It’s advanced stuff and individual to you.

How fun, we’ve owned a family vacation home down there, I did a longer ride along Neckar river from Heidelberg down there a few years back. You must have been so lost in a small community hospital. Great that it worked out well for you

I have very similar story and just got one two weeks ago. 38m cat 1 racer, lifelong athlete. 150lbs. I happened to be wearing a medical HR monitor as I was going through some checks after I fainted a couple months ago that was eventually diagnosed as severe dehydration.(long travel day and was hiking in the desert for 5 days prior) My physician wanted me to go get everything checked to be sure. So I saw a cardiologists and they wanted me to wear a HR monitor since I had been dizzy a few times a month getting up after being seated and wanted to make sure my HR wasn’t dropping when I felt dizzy. (I Know now, it wasn’t) It was just a box check.

Short story, had a MTB crash, bounce back up, realize I am dazed, make it about 40 yards, faint, video call my wife, faint again about 3 minutes into that conversation. That medical HR monitor says 10 second ‘sinus pause.’ The cardiologist tells me to go to the ER. I have a 10mm AC Joint separation in my shoulder. They won’t let me leave, EKG, echocardio, blood work, everything is normal. 10 second pause and they are stuck on it. Stay in the hospital for 5 days since this happened on a Friday and I wanted another opinion and to talk to my cardiologist instead of the oncall one. I got the Medtronic Micra pacemaker put in and they set it to if my HR drops under 40 BPM for 2 couple seconds it kicks in. 3 of 4 of cardiologists I ended up talking to say extreme vaso vagal response alongside life long history of endurance training, Heart is slow to respond and it caused a sinus pause of 10 seconds. They are not sure if it will ever happen again but my other options were not drive for 6 months, limit activity, have restrictions and hope nothing happens again and then I get the all clear or I get the 20min surgery to get this put pacemaker put in and I was back on the bike in 5 days. I have no restrictions and first checkup and readout is normal, we will see if I really need this or got super lucky and it will save me.

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Sick sinus syndrome was my diagnosis, as well.

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So I got a question regarding pacemakers and HR monitors.
My dad, 78y/o, got a pacemaker this summer.
Now his Garmin HR monitor is acting up and we are trying to troubleshoot.

Do you think the pacemaker could be the culprit?
Yes, we’ll pair his monitor to my Garmin and my monitor to his garmin etc next chance we get…