My mother has a pacemaker. She has experienced problems, had the generator replaced, the leads replaced after episodes of syncope etc. Although always set at 70 bpm she is now always in the low 60's at rest. Is this an indication that there is a problem with the device? Should I be concernced?
If you have confirmed a heart rate in the low 60's and this is below the lower limit set for the pacemaker, your mom's cardiologist would appreciate an update. There is never any harm in calling the cardiologists office and leaving a message regarding the heart rate, requesting that he/she call you back to discuss further.
Most pacemakers can be 'interrogated' by qualified personnel to provide information on heart rate over time. If the pacemaker is rate responsive, then the rate will respond to changes within your mom's own heart beat and rhythm.
A heart rate in the low 60's isn't in itself a major problem - the significance will depend upon the indication for the pacemaker, the type of pacemaker implanted, and medications being used (among other things). Additional symptoms that would suggest the need for urgent evaluation of the pacemaker are: new onset dizziness, collapse, unexplained increases in shortness of breath and/or swelling in the ankles/tummy. If your mom is experiencing any of these symptoms you should inform your cardiologist directly and seek medical attention sooner rather than later.
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