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Pacemakers and altitude
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Pacemakers and altitude

My daughter is 4yrs old and has had a pacemaker for a year. We live at 9000ft outside of Denver, Colorado. My daughter has no structrual defects just sinus node dysfunction that pre pacer caused her heart to pause 6-7 times a week for up to 1 min. We travel to my son's games in plaves where the altitude tops out at 12000 ft. My daughter gets real sweaty and turns blue when we get any higher than 10000ft. She has passed out and went limp when we were at a school that was 10,200 ft. Her o2 sats (taken by a paramedic were in the low 70's she was put on 02. As soon as we descended she was fine. The problem is the pulmonary doc says there is no physical reason for this and the cardio doc says it is not heart related. The mountains are our life. We live here and are happy here. I am curious if the mechanics of a pacemaker are affected by the altitude and pressure? How do I go about testing a Pulmonary theory. My peds doc is willing to have her wear a pulse ox but is it safe to take her to 14000ft just to test a theory without o2. I am really concerned that it is heart related because sometimes she grabs her chest and says her heart is beeping. Her pacemaker checks out fine. I am just grasping for straws or even some questions to ask to get an appropriate answer. As I said this is our home. I do not want to put my daughter in danger for an answer either that is why I am reluctant to take her any higher than our 9000ft. Is there a correlation between altitude and Sinus node dysfunction? As I understand it her pacer is supposed to make her normal (in a weird medical sense). So what explaniation for the decreased 02, blueness and passing out when we are at a greater altitude. I know you can not diagnose I just need a plan of attack. Thanks.
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I my mulling over this I have another question. Thinking purely physiological, If at higher altitudes there is less o2 would it make sense that your heart beats faster to allow more o2 to enter the blood stream. So if her heart rate is paced at a constant rate could this account for low o2 sats? Thanks
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Avatar_f_tn
The first time I got my 02 sat machine for my little guy was at the hospital. I have since had to get more (they don't like the washing machine too much) I was able to get hte 02 sat at our pharmacy where they have respiratory therapist there, they should be able to answer you questions about the altitude. this is their specialty. they are very good and have answered many questions of mine
good luck
Michelle
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Avatar_f_tn
One of the problems my daughter had was Sick Sinus Syndrome and she ecieved her pacemaker when she was 8. She has flown several times in her lifetime where she had the pacer without any difficulty whatsoever. If your daughter has SSS, then her Sinus Node is incapable of firing off impulses to keep up with the body's demands so the beating faster because there is less O2 in her system probably isn't accurate.  Her heart rate isn't going to increase to put more O2 in her system like it might with a normal heart. I would have a 48hr Holter or 30 day Event monitor (sometimes called the King Of Hearts). Chest pains in children are EXTREMELY RARE and are caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart walls; usually due to one of the heart muscle diseases called the cardiomyopathies. If your daughter had those types of structual problems, you would know as those are hard to miss. Children often times mistake the feeling of hard heart beats as chest pain; they are not true chest pain caused by heart problems. Even children who have congenital forms of heart disease rarely have chest pain. Those that usually do are in need of transplantation. Take care.
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