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    Default Defibrillator/Pacer Hiker Experiences?

    Hello all. Is there someone you may know of, perhaps yourself, who has thru-hiked the AT (or attempted to) who had a subcutaneous defibrillator/pacer? I am 58. I know everyone will say "get your doctor's approval" which I plan on of course. I am under no delusions about the arduous nature of traipsing from Georgia to Maine with a backpack since I've done sectioning before. Any comments, experiences, and/or advice would be welcome and appreciated. Thanks!

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    Default Defibrillator/Pacer Hiker Experiences?

    More so than the strenuous nature, I would be more concerned about access to appropriate medical facilities. You may end up having to be transported hours from a rural facility to one equipped to handle cardiac emergencies. You would also have to work out the logistics concerning your prescription meds.

  3. #3

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    I'm training with someone with a pacemaker, no defibrillator but 100% paced, and I'm having trouble keeping up sometimes, and I'm known as a fast walker. Based on my paramedic brother's experiences the defibrillator part would be what concerns me, but I don't know your situation or acceptable risk level. I would definitely recommend talking to your doctor and getting a full checkup on the pacemaker before you go, as close to departure date as you can. If you're with someone throughout the hike I would be sure to let them know you have a pacemaker. You don't want to wake up in the middle of an MRI having your pacemaker ripping out of your chest or anything like that.

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    How did your section hikes go?
    Has your defib. ever gone off?
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Airmed802 View Post
    More so than the strenuous nature, I would be more concerned about access to appropriate medical facilities. You may end up having to be transported hours from a rural facility to one equipped to handle cardiac emergencies. You would also have to work out the logistics concerning your prescription meds.
    A very good point re: drug logistics, and one I've often contemplated. If you ask me, the entire enterprise would be a logistics nightmare. One of my best friends thru-hiked in '75 and he attests to that! Thankfully, my heart is stronger than it would seem with my "equipment". I've climbed Brasstown Bald (GA) without difficulty (sans pack). I would require some physical therapy for strength purposes I figure. My doctors have called me a walking miracle considering what I went through, 14 years ago. I would certainly attempt a thru-hike at a leisurely pace to say the least, in any case. Thanks for some very valid points!

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    I have a friend with an implanted defib who cycles and was surprised at how low they were going to set the beats per minute threshhold that would trigger the shock. He had to get special permission from his cardiologist and insurance company to have the setting adjusted to higher than the average so the thing wouldn't zap him when he was sprinting.

    I don't know if you could push yourself that hard while hiking, but you'd probably want to know at what point the thing would go off.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Bumpy View Post
    I have a friend with an implanted defib who cycles and was surprised at how low they were going to set the beats per minute threshhold that would trigger the shock. He had to get special permission from his cardiologist and insurance company to have the setting adjusted to higher than the average so the thing wouldn't zap him when he was sprinting.

    I don't know if you could push yourself that hard while hiking, but you'd probably want to know at what point the thing would go off.

    I literally "ran" into that same problem with the first pacer I received in 2000. One out of every ten jogs gave me a Muhammad Ali punch in the chest. I complained, naturally, and they sped up my heart rate artificially to a point. Eight years later with the battery fading I was given the new model which could do everything except whistle Dixie. The Medtronic Techie told me the older models mis-interpreted the data it received, thinking the extra beats were tachicardia (a rapid and deadly heart beat). The newer model took exercise into consideration and I haven't had an exertion based "bang" since 2008.

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