Pacemakers are an essential part of many people’s lives and well-being. Without them, many people would struggle to live a normal life with them, or even live, period.
Many people often have questions relating to this vital piece of medical equipment. Despite how ubiquitous and widespread their use has become, most people still know shockingly little about them.
Why you might need one in the first place. What they do, or what conditions they help regulate, are often mysteries to people whose lives aren’t affected by them.
Especially the big questions, like ‘Can you still have a heart attack, even if you have a pacemaker fitted?’
These questions are reasonable ones to ask, especially if you have learned that a family member or friend has recently been given one.
All this information and more will be covered in this guide that we have created.
We will not only cover the main question that we have posed, but we’ll answer a ton of extra questions you might have too, such as why a person might be fitted with a pacemaker in the first place.
Not only that, but we’ll also show you some of the symptoms that you should be looking out for if someone, be it yourself or someone else, has a pacemaker, and might be in the early stages of experiencing a heart attack.
Because make no mistake. Just because you have a pacemaker installed, doesn’t mean that you are immune to the dangerous effects of a heart attack
Why You Would Have A Pacemaker
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the dangers of heart attacks with a pacemaker, we should probably first discuss why someone might need a pacemaker in the first place.
Well, generally speaking, pacemakers do exactly what their name suggests. They help regulate the beating of a person’s heart.
A person can need a pacemaker for all kinds of reasons, such as if a person has an irregular heartbeat (also known as arrhythmia), or the heart itself is too weak to support itself.
Where the ventricle walls of the heart are too weak to effectively contract and expand on their own, sending blood throughout the body as a healthy heart might.
Can You Have A Heart Attack With A Pacemaker?
So, if a person has a pacemaker connected to their heart, is their heart much stronger? And, more importantly for our questions, are they protected from heart attacks?
Certainly, having a pacemaker installed will improve your overall heart health (if you need one).
However, this does not mean that you are immune to the damage or effects that a heart attack can have on your body. And that’s mainly due to how heart attacks happen.
Most heart attacks occur when the arteries or veins of a person become clotted and blocked, not helped by the development of thick sludgy material that builds up on the inside of the arterial wall, known as plaque.
(Not to be confused with the kind of plaque that can build up on your teeth!)
If you’ll remember from our explanation in the last section, pacemakers only help better regulate and stimulate the muscle in and around the heart.
They don’t clear the arterial pathways leading to and from the heart, which is what a heart attack is.
So, just because you have a pacemaker installed, doesn’t mean that you can’t get heart attacks.
They treat conditions that are almost always different from those that cause heart (see also: Can Constipation Cause Heart Palpitations?)attacks.
Signs Of A Heart Attack If You Have A Pacemaker
So, if people with pacemakers aren’t immune to getting these unfortunate heart conditions, it will pay to know some of the signs that a person with a pacemaker having a heart attack is.
Well, fortunately, they are similar to many other symptoms of heart attacks, so let’s cover the most common ones!
- Chest pain – This is an obvious sign, but keep in mind that this pain can take a few different forms, such as intense heartburn, rather than a chest-clutching pain like you might imagine.
- Pressure Building Up In Your Body (Upper Half) – As circulation is blocked off in the walls of your arteries, there is a chance that you’ll feel a build of pressure or discomfort, like the last sign.
- Shortness of breath – With a drop in the oxygen in your blood, you’re going to start feeling out of breath, despite any breathing exercises that you are using.
- Dizziness – Similar to shortness of breath, dizziness could be a sign that you’re not getting enough oxygen to your brain, as the material walls block up.
- Extreme nausea – the chemicals in your brain that are triggered by a heart attack can often manifest in stomach pain or nausea, to draw your attention to the fact that something is deeply wrong.
- Back or shoulder pain – Your body is trying to alert you that something is wrong, so will send signals to your brain like this.
- Irregular heartbeat – You’ll notice that the pulse isn’t beating like normal, even with a pacemaker
- Cold Sweats – Similar to feeling faith or dizzy, you can often break out in a cold sweat when suffering from a heart attack.
- Sudden fatigue – Of course, any of these symptoms could be a sign of some other kind of health problem, rather than what many people consider to be a worst-case scenario.
Still, it’s better to be safe than to be sorry, so you need to get the right attention before things go from bad to worse.
So, in these potentially dangerous and life-threatening scenarios, what should you do if you or someone around you is suffering from a heart attack?
A quick response is of the essence here. Make sure that you contact a medical professional as soon as possible, and be in a place where you are seen publicly. That way, you may be able to receive help from other people.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid getting caught off-guard by a heart (see also: 8 Foods You Should Avoid With Heart Disease)attack is to schedule regular checkups with a doctor or health professional for any changes to your heart and pacemaker.