People with pacemakers can't die in their sleep ???

My friend was telling me about her relative who recently got a pacemaker. According to my friend, “the only bad thing about a pacemaker is that you can’t die in your sleep, because your heart won’t stop.” In other words, you can’t die peacefully.

I had never heard this before and doubt it’s true, yet apparently she was told this by some kind of medical person.

So what’s the dope?

Sounds a bit odd doesn’t it?

So if you get put in to a medically induced coma will you just stay alive indefinitely until you wake up ;)?

Sounds like rubbish to me. People don’t have strokes while sleeping?

Not only that, but how can a pacemaker prevent an infarction? It doesn’t matter if it keeps a rhythm if the muscle is dead.

Of course people with pacemakers can die in their sleep!

One of the more common cardiac events which results in death is a small infarct which disturbs the heart rhythm to the extent that ventricular fibrillation occurs. V Fib means that the patient is now a pulseless non-breather, aka “dead”. Pacemakers can’t convert V fib back to a useful rhythm. You need a defibrillator for that.

Warning! Gross oversimplification follows: Pacemakers are used when the heart has a ‘heart block’ i.e. it isn’t quite sure ‘when’ to beat regularly. The pacemaker cues the heart to beat at useful intervals (like 80 times a minute). It can’t help when different bits of the heart all try to beat all at different times, as in V fib. Then you need a large electrical shock (a defibrillator) to stun all the discordant bits into submission and get 'em to start over in rhythm.

If you couldn’t die in your sleep, what would change when you woke up, to enable you to die while awake? Or is the contention that folks with pacemakers can’t die then, either, and are immortal? :dubious:

My mother had a pacemaker, and was in an “unresponsive state” when she died of heart failure. Not the same as sleep, but perhaps relevant to the OP.

Some pacemakers have automatic defibrillators built into them. If they sense a very bad heart rhythm, they will shock the person. Shock you again and again until they get a good heart rhythm. Those will certainly wake you up out of sleep.

Unless you’re already too far gone to wake up… in which case, though you’re only unconscious at the point the defibrillator goes off, you “died” in your sleep.

Always fun (not) to find an implantable defibrillator in a dead body when you didn’t expect one. Try cutting the wires on those with a metal scissors. Rubber gloves won’t save you.

Fortunately the bulge beneath the chest wall scar is nearly always obvious.

Try putting in a central venous catheter while the AICD is going off every 20 seconds.

I have a friend with one of those. His had a problem though, it was reading his heart rate as double. So a simple stroll around the block and he would get literally (like actually literally, not the new ‘figuratively’ literally) knocked onto his ass by the shock. He said he thought he got kicked in the chest or shot.