My 89-yr-old mother lies awake at night worrying about how she will be
able to die, fearing her pacemaker will interfere with the process.
Has had pacemaker for about 4 years.
Last August had heart attack, has frequent unstable angina attacks, is
weak, lethargic, no appetite, insomnia - and all the medications her doctors
prescribe keep her alive, but miserable. She knows she cannot live forever
but doesn't understand how she will die - if a killer heart attack hits,
will the heart stop, and the stimulation of the pacemaker just have no
effect? I know this sounds like a silly problem, but this insomnia is
more debilitating than anything. Thanks in advance for your response.
Dear Evelyn, thank you for your question. A pacemaker is designed to stimulate the heart
to beat when it can't beat fast enough on its own. Some pacemakers are working 100% of the
time while others stimulate heartbeats only occassionally. Each patient with a pacemaker is
different but most don't even realize it when the pacemaker is stimulating a heartbeat.
Your mother sounds debilitated by her worsening angina and she sounds like she has a grim
prognosis but discussions about what type of care and what type of comfort measures need
to be undertaken at this point should be held with her primary physician. If she were to
have a large heart attack, it's doubtful a pacemaker would artificially prolong her life.
A pacemaker would only do this if her heart rhythym would be too slow - which is an unusual
cause of mortality in patients with a heart attack. I would suggest that you speak with
the cardiologist who monitors her pacemaker about what its purpose is in her and how
dependent she is on the pacemaker function. It is possible to deactivate a pacemaker but
I don't know if that would be a good idea in your mother's case. Additionally, your mother
could be made more comfortable with better pain relief and perhaps better medical control
of her angina. I hope this information helps her sleep better at night.
Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only. Specific diagnoses
and therapies can only be provided by your physician.
Copyright 1994-2017MedHelp International.All rights reserved. MedHelp is a division of Aptus Health.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.