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Working out with a pacemaker
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Working out with a pacemaker

Hello,

I had a pacemaker installed when i was 21 to help out with the sick sinus syndrom (syndrome) and i am now 35 years of age.  Within 14 years i have gained between 50-60 pounds after having 2 kids.  My husband and I have started working out 2 months ago and i was really short of breath and my hands would become swollen later that night. November 25th, 2009 i had a pacemaker appointment and i brought up the question that i have tried to work out and i explained my symptoms, short of breath, swollen fingers and arms and sometime my chest starts hurting and we stopped training after that.  He later told me that my pacemaker is set for my heart rate not to go over 70 but there is no reason why it was set that low.  I want to know for with the (SSS), should the pacemaker be set that low and could i recommend that it be set higher so i can burn calories to loose weight?  I have a schedule appointment in January to look at my paper work and all my settings to see if i am able to get back in the gym with a pacemaker.  If you can help me out with this subject that would be great.  And with (SSS) and a pacemaker, could i ever get back in the gym like i was before i had the pacemaker installed. thank you Dr's....
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It's OK to work out with a pacemaker, although, there are some exercises with weights that I would avoid.  Essentially anything that put a lot of strain on the clavicle and the first rib such as repetitive over the head triceps curls or shoulder presses should be avoided because they could potentially put a great amount of stress on the lead that passes through that area causing it to fracture.  As far as the rate goes, I would reprogram your pacemaker such that it has something called rate response.  Now, some older devices don't have that feature, but the newer ones definitely do.  I would not increase your heart rate because this isn't going to help much.  What the rate response does is it measures your body acceleration and respiratory rate to judge at what rate the pacer should pace you.  This way if you are working out hard, the pacer will pace you at even 100 to 120 BPM which is what you will need to meet you body's demands.  When you stop exercising, the pacer will however go back to the lower preset rate which is desirable because you don't want your heart to be beating fast when you are relaxing.  This is why increasing the rate itself wouldn't be very helpful.  
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