/ Climbing with a Pacemaker

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tri-nitro-toulumne on 19 Aug 2013
Does anyone on here climb with a pacemaker?

I've just had one fitted. To be honest I don't think there are any issues with climbing, but I'm slightly concerned about being able to carry a heavy rucksack (the straps appear to sit on top of where the device is implanted).

Anyone got any experience of this?
remus - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne: Surely your doctor would be the person to ask?
Caralynh - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:

A colleague of mine, in her late 20s I think, has a pacemaker. She also climbs, walks, kayaks and runs a TA summer camp. Not sure if I'll bump into her this week, but if I do, I'll ask her. Pretty sure since she's in the TA yomping about with a heavy pack doesn't trouble her.
tri-nitro-toulumne on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to remus:

Nah. The doctor's response would be "It's safer not to carry a large rucksack"

They did give me a list of activities that pose no threat to pacemakers (microwaves, mobile phones etc) but with something like this which is more subjective in nature doctors tend to err on the side of caution.
tri-nitro-toulumne on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Caralynh:

That's excellent news! Thanks. I'd be very interested to hear her opinion
RomTheBear - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne: Should be fine as long as the rucksack strap don't cause any discomfort on the pacemaker insertion site.
tri-nitro-toulumne on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to Caralynh:

PS I had mine buried underneath the pectoral muscle (often they are placed above the muscle)
tallsteve - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:

I climbed Mont Blanc with a mate with a pace maker. Didn't trouble him none.

The only issue was sharing a room with him, we were all kept awake at night by the loud ticking ;)
tri-nitro-toulumne on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to tallsteve:

Cool - good to know, thanks.

Ticking? Really? I know mechanical heart valves click, but I was unaware that pacemakers do it. Mine certainly doesn't make any noise.
duchessofmalfi - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:

Once tried to climb on beta blockers - that didn't work...
leland stamper on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:Have been prescribed beta blockers after heart attack. What's the problem with climbing on them? Haven't noticed an effect in last few months.
duchessofmalfi - on 19 Aug 2013
In reply to leland stamper:

I found I felt completely normal up to the point where I needed to do something very physical or strenuous or anxious when I might normally expect to draw on a bit of Ommph there was none
Shaw Brown - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:

My dad has climbed for the last 15 years+ with a pacemaker with few issues.

His pacemaker is just under the skin exactly where the rucksack strap goes, his solution is lots of soft padding. He does lots of solo backpacking so his pack weight can be fairly high. He does travel light when it comes to climbing gear, i guess a climbing apprenticeship in the 50's helps, a few slings and a pocket full of pebbles were all you had. Thankfully the pebbles have been upgraded to aluminum nuts :-)
Car seat belts have been more of a problem.

His doctors have been very enthusiastic about him climbing, the main proviso is not to fall off!!

I can put you in touch with him if you wish.

tallsteve - on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:


> Ticking? Really? I know mechanical heart valves click, but I was unaware that pacemakers do it. Mine certainly doesn't make any noise.

It was just a regular wind up :-D

tri-nitro-toulumne on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to duchessofmalfi:

Yeah, the beta blockers don't seem to agree with me either. I've been on them for about 10 days now. I'm going to stop taking them tomorrow and see if I start feeling better.
tri-nitro-toulumne on 20 Aug 2013
In reply to Shaw Brown:


Thanks Shaw - good to know. I got the surgeon to bury mine beneath my pectoral muscle, it sounds like your father's one sits on top of the muscle, just below the skin. I don't know if this will give me more protection. It will be about 2 - 3 months before I can carry a pack (I had my heart operated on at the same time).
David Hillebrandt - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:

Over the years I have advised people with pacemakers mountaineering to 7000m and none have had any problems. You are right that placement is crucial and in a few years, when yours is replaced, I would suggest taking your rucsac, climbing harness and anything else that might rub with you to show the cardiologist who is fitting it.

If you need further information a cardiology holder of the Diploma of Mountain Medicine (see www.medex.org ) would be happy to work with your cardiologist. For altitude use we sometimes suggest a change in the settings which can be done without any invasive procedures.

David Hillebrandt
tri-nitro-toulumne on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to David Hillebrandt:

Thanks David - great advice. I did mention my climbing to the surgeon and he put some extra length on the pacing wires to account for long arm stretches but I didn't think about carrying a rucksack.

I have to say I was absolutely gutted when I was told I needed a pacemaker, but it looks like there won't any significant lifestyle limitations. As I mentioned above, I'm having some issues with the beta blockers but hopefully I'll be able to resolve that.
Caralynh - on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to tri-nitro-toulumne:
> (In reply to Caralynh)
>
> That's excellent news! Thanks. I'd be very interested to hear her opinion

I caught up with her yesterday. She says that she generally gets on with things, but has to make sure that any rucksack straps are very padded. Her army Bergen is uncomfortable since it's not padded enough. She can still carry normal weights over normal distances as long as the shoulder straps are well fitted and padded. HTH.
tri-nitro-toulumne on 21 Aug 2013
In reply to Caralynh:

Thanks, that's great information. I've got a Crux AK47 which has very thin padding on the straps... might be putting it up for sale soon :) I've noticed Macpac have very well padded sacks (although they seem to be on the heavy side)
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