Pacemakers and losing a dear friend.... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Hello everyone,

Had a sad day today. I attended the funeral of a very dear friend--she was in her seventies. Her health had been fairly good until January, 1999, when she took a sudden turn for the worse. All at once, she was very tired and just couldn't seem to catch her breath. She became very confused and her health continued to deteriorate quite rapidly.

I don't want to blame Y2k for everything, but I have to wonder about this--you see, she had a pacemaker. And when the company called to check it at the beginning of February, the tech on the phone was quite alarmed. It seemed her pacemaker was no longer working. The tech's exact words were, "Her pacemaker has stopped. Her heartbeat is so erratic it can't be working." Please bear in mind it had been tested in October, 1998, and was working just fine at that time. Since she was an elderly lady, surgery was not an option.

We lost Mary two days ago...and will miss her very much. She was a wonderful lady. I know elderly people die :>( --I've taken care of quite a few. But I can't help wondering about that pacemaker.... :>(

Does anyone know where I can find out more information on pacemakers and Y2k? Thanks.

-- Scarlett (, March 10, 1999



I want to pass a hart felt hug to you for your loss. Sometimes words cannot say what a hug can. So for a cyber hug {}

-- (cannot-say@this.time), March 10, 1999.


Contact me.


-- Dan (, March 10, 1999.

This question arose earlier on a different Y2K forum. Here is a copy of the posting:
Q: I have a family member who has a pacemaker. Is he at risk?
A: For an answer to this question, I asked a pharmacist who directed
me to the #1 manufacturer of pacemakers in the medical field.
Here is his reply:BR>  
February 1, 1999
Guidant/CRM has completed a thorough review of our product offerings with respect to the Year 2000 issue. Guidant/CRM implantable pacemakers and defibrillator systems (all models) are unaffected by the Year 2000 date change. This includes all system functionality, battery longevity, detection and therapy delivery.
Physicians use Guidant/CRM programmers to interrogate and program implanted systems. The interrogation and programming of implanted systems is unaffected by the Year 2000 date change. Therefore, the Year 2000 date change presents no adverse health impact to pacemaker wearers and there is no impact to pulse generator system function.
Please contact your physician or Guidant/CRM Technical Services at 800-227-3422 if you have any other questions.
Jerry Stoerzinger
Manager of Technical Services
Guidant Corporation
Hope this helps. My condolences on the loss of your friend.

-- Dan (, March 10, 1999.


Such a sad story and my heart reaches out to you. I too would like to send a cyber-hug {}.

I think I am right in thinking that it was only today when I heard John Koskinen say that pacemakers pose no problems. When I heard him say this I recalled having read I think somewhere in a thread on this forum that in the UK they had identified some problem or other with pacemakers. I think I even recall someone posting that a relation of theirs had been recommended by his doctor to have his pacemaker replaced with a newer known compliant model.

I shall go off now and see if I can find it for you.

-- Carol (, March 10, 1999.

Sorry to hear that you are feeling a loss, although with the approaching mayhem she may be happier where she is. More likely than a Y2K related failure, it may have been caused by this:


And they say it's going to get much worse in the very near future.

-- @ (@@@.@), March 10, 1999.


I have been searching and I am afraid I cannot find anything. Perhaps it wasn't in this forum after all. Anyhow I have to go for now, but I shall try and search some more later for you. Perhaps if you check out the medical sites you might find something.

-- Carol (, March 10, 1999.

My thoughts are with you and yours at this time.

{} and may you find the strength to continue to care for others.

Best Regards,

-- Bob Barbour (, March 10, 1999.

Thanks *everyone* for your sympathy and especially the {}. It's been a tough day.

Carol--thanks so much for trying to look that up for me. I appreciate it!

Take care.

-- Scarlett (, March 10, 1999.

I'm very sorry to hear of your loss, Scarlett.

Another cyber-hug.



-- Diane J. Squire (, March 10, 1999.

Scarlett, I'm real sorry to hear this :-( I offer you my condolescences and a cyber-hug {{}}

I have a mother-in-law with a pacemaker and this worries me, so please allow me to probe further and ask questions. I don't mean to add yet more grief for you, but since you brought up that you are too wondering...

I have a nagging feeling that we shouldn't discount the '99 roll-over as being the cause just because Koskinen and a few companies say they're safe. There are a great deal of different types and models of pacemakers out there. Pacemakers are hardy machines, they keep on ticking when the person's body has given up. I'm an RN, and I've never been worried about a patient's pacemaker just "stop" working, or heard of one that just did, or even heard or been informed that it could happen (which ofcourse doesn't mean it didn't happen to someone somewhere, but just that in my own experience I have not been aware of it.)

--Now we know that some digital machines did malfunction on the roll-over Jan. 1, 1999.

--She started to feel confused, tired and out of breath in January, which are signs of inadequate blood flow to the brain when the heart is not pumping effectively (how early in January did these symtoms start?)

-- How long ago did she have this pacemaker implanted?

--You said "Since she was an elderly lady, surgery was not an option." Was that her cardiologist's decision? The age itself doesn't mean anything, it depends on the person's overall health and ability to wistand the operation.

--Has the cardiologist or the family asked to know why the pacemaker just quit working?

--Would the family give you the type and model number of her pacemaker? It would be helpful. I'll do some research too. I too remember reading something about some models that might have problems, but I can't remember where, it was several months ago.

My thoughts are with you Scarlett.

-- Chris (, March 10, 1999.

Scarlett, I just want to clear something up. Pacemakers run on batteries, which ofcourse run out, but they last well past 10 years. That's why I'm asking when she had it implanted.

-- Chris (, March 10, 1999.

Scarlett, I just found this Q & A on Heartpoint Gallery website:


"What happens when the battery runs out?

Pacemaker batteries are designed to become depleted in a slow and predictable fashion. When followed over the telephone, the steady decline in energy can be followed. When the battery is low but still has significant power left, the pacemaker will still work just fine, but give indications (peculiar to each manufacturer and model) that the time for replacement is nearing. When the ERI (elective replacement interval) is reached, plans can be made for changing the battery at a date convenient for the patient and the surgeon.

Even beyond the ERI, pacemakers continue to pace for a long time, and do not simply stop emitting electrical energy suddenly or unexpectedly.

When it's time for a new pulse generator, it is generally simply exchanged for a new one. This will require surgery to remove the old device. The leads will be unscrewed and removed from the old generator, and then tested to make sure they are still working well. If not, new leads are placed. Most of the time however, they are still found to be working well and are simply attached to the new generator and placed back in the pocket, which is closed as it was before.

The new generator is almost always much smaller than the one it replaced due to advances in the design and manufacture of pacemakers."

-- Chris (, March 10, 1999.

Me again. I found this mention on pacemakers in a 1997 Statement of Hearing Testimony Subcommittee on Technology and Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology

"Medical Equipment In a very simplified explanation, every time a heart pacemaker detects an irregular heartbeat it sends a shock to the system and then records the time the event occurred. This information is regularly downloaded to a computer system so it can be analyzed by medical personnel. Whenever the information is downloaded, the pacemaker resets itself. The downloaded information is used by cardiologists to detect patterns and irregularities in the patients heart rhythms. If the software in the receiving system starts recording faulty times for the shock deliveries, the cardiologist could misinterpret the results and administer improper medical care.

The U.S. Veterans Administration funded a project to interview the top five pacemaker manufacturers to see if they were aware of this potential problem. One company was aware of the problem and said they would have it corrected by the end of 1997. Two companies said that the problem would be fixed before the Year 2000, one before 1998. Finally, one company flatly refused to acknowledge the problem and when pushed declined to discuss the topic any further."

Also found official warnings against wireless phones near pacemakers, shouldn't be any closer than 6 inches as they cause interference (looks like only the digital types are a problem, but need to do more research.)

hmm...Well, I'll give this a rest until tomorrow, it's bedtime.

-- chris (, March 10, 1999.

Sorry forgot to post the link for the statement above. .gov/science/couffou_3-20.html

-- chris (, March 10, 1999.

Dear Scarlett,

In the "it's a small world' category, I just made a new business associate who happens to be the man who invented the pacemaker. He assures me that they are totally Y2K compliant and have been working on this for years. Because they manufacture all their own parts... from the chips to the batteries they have total control over quality and compliance. His company website is They have a y2k section on the site that may help anyone who has any concerns. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. It's never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. Hope this helps. Keith.

-- Keith Nealy (, March 11, 1999.

Thanks again everyone for the information and for your kindness. I truly appreciate it.


You are amazing. :>) Thank you. I'm working on your answers and should have them posted tomorrow. We're trying to get a look at the records in Mary's pacemaker box.

Take care.

-- Scarlett (, March 11, 1999.

Scarlett, condolences on your loss. Take another hug from me {}

-- Tricia the Canuck (, March 12, 1999.


Thought I would email you with some information. Do you use your "real" address?

-- Scarlett (, March 12, 1999.

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