I have had troubles with a lower than average heart rate for years. It started before my carcinoid diagnosis, but, seemed no trouble – non-threatening. It has gotten worse in the last couple of years. My heart rate would drop below 50 bpm, sometimes as low as 35 and stay low for 10 -20 minutes. My blood pressure seemed to be dropping as well. At such times, my brain felt fuzzy and I could not stand. It occurred at unpredictable times. That could create dangerous situations.
At the mid-winter carcinoid conference, I had the good luck to speak with an oncology assistant professor of UC. He told me that a connection between that condition and carcinoid cancer is known but “exceedingly rare”. How lucky for me! Ha!
I had an appointment with an electro-physio-cardiologist last month. In his office, my average heart rate was 52 and they want it to stay 60 bpm or more. We determined that a pacemaker could help me. Yesterday the implant was done and I am home recuperating today.
The procedure took about an hour and I spent the night in the hospital. Since the anesthesia was not general anesthesia but very light and intended only to be like sleep, there was little danger of carcinoid crisis.
It may take a few days to get used to but, I should feel more energetic. I will probably be able to ride bikes again safely. In general, physical activities and changes of altitude and traveling should create fewer problems for me.
How will it affect the carcinoid cancer? I will not be able to have an MRI because they would break the pacemaker. I have only had one MRI since my carcinoid diagnosis anyway. A good thing is the pacemaker should greatly reduce the problem of carcinoid crisis during surgery and anesthesia.
The pacemaker that I have is built to last 12 years. It comes with a separate communication device that hooks to the phone line and then contacts the pacemaker by radio and collects data daily and sends it to a pacemaker center where software can notify my doctors if there appear to be problems with my heart or with the pacemaker.
As of May 29, 2015, the pacemaker is successfully holding my resting pulse at 60 bpm. It does change the pulse rate upward as I move around. It has evened out my pulse which was often bigeminy (beat.beat..beat.beat) to normal (beat.beat.beat.beat). And I woke today feeling rested and and well.
To me, this is a good decision with little risk. I will let you know in the future if it works as hoped.
May we all have the best possible outcomes,