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Athlete with Biotronik Pacemaker
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Athlete with Biotronik Pacemaker

I'm 57 with a history of A-fib/flutter, 4 ablation attempts, heartblock after last attempt. Initially got Medtronic pacemaker that was changed 6 months later to a Biotronik pacemaker with CLS sensing, three wire BiV unit to help with running/racewalking. The running was very slow with the Medtronic device & I could barely run an 11:00 minute per mile pace.  

With Biotronik unit, I can't run at all in CLS mode. The unit drives the heartrate down when I switch from racewalking to running, even if I was able to get the HR up to 140/150 depending on where the limits were set.  After just 50 or so yards of running, no matter how fast or slow I try, the unit drives the HR down & I have to shut down & start walking again.  Very frustrating. In accelerometer mode I can run, but the HR never matches the pace very well. It just ramps up to the max and the heart seems out of syn and I feel lousy, again, barely able to run an 11:00 minute mile.

Many, many attempts to adjust pacemaker by Biotronik rep, on & off treadmill, in both CLS modes and accelerometer modes.  With and without upper chamber turned off.  Data was recorded and sent to Biotronik engineers who have twice sent back adjstment settings, but the device still shuts down the HR when I run. Biotronik says my impedence signal is too low & the device is not sensing it very well.  Sometimes after racewalking for an hour or so, if I stop and stretch or rest a bit, the device will not pick the HR back up, no matter what I do. It appears stuck on about 60 bpm. After 30 minutes or so, it starts working again.  The latest thing my doctor tried was to put me on Sotalol to allow me to keep the upper chamber turned on and controlling the HR as much as possible without A-fib, but it slows the HR so much that I can't get it high enough to support strenuous exercise. The pacemaker is supposed to sense that and take over, but it isn't working.

I still have episodes of A-Fib/Flutter, but usually short, a few minutes.  With Medtronic device I had very little Tachycardia, but as soon as the Biotronik device was inserted, I seem to have a lot of it.

Questions:

1) Has there been similar experience with Biotronik devices in athletes?
2) Is it possible that the Biotronik device is causing more frequent episodes of A-fib?
3) Where could I go to get better support and adjustments of the device?
4) Is there a better device that would allow me to run?
5) Are there any other options or combinations that would allow me to run again?
6) I've been to the Cleveland Clinic once, but would they be able to help me?  I'm in Phoenix, AZ, but would be willing to spend a week or so if they could get the device to work.

Appreciate any advice that you can offer.

Regards,

Racewalker

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