Skydiving with a Pacemaker

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One year ago I ended up in a serious medical situation and at the time I could not find much information on this subject online. I hope this forum post helps answer questions that may help someone that end up in the same situation.

I'm a 34 year old skydiver in Tennessee and I've been jumping a little more than 3 years. In the middle of October in 2019 I was finishing up a long string of work, mostly on the weekends, and I was looking forward to getting back to the DZ to have some fun the next few weekends before it got too cold to jump. That Sunday I started getting intense dizzy spells at work and I called a friend that is a general practitioner. Monday morning I went to his office, and after having an EKG he sent me to the ER located on the same campus. Within an hour I was on the cardiac floor of the ICU and I was diagnosed with Bradycardia or a dangerously low heart rate. By the end of the day I had a procedure to put in a temporary pacemaker. All of this was really scary and quite shocking. I'm still young, I exercise, and I eat healthy most of the time. After 3 days of scans and tests both cardiologists came to me and said that I have a healthy heart but its just not working properly anymore and I would need to have surgery for a permanent pacemaker. I was devastated.

As an avid runner my first thought was that I wouldn't be able to run anymore, my second thought was that skydiving was over for me. I asked the doctor if skydiving was out of the question once I healed. He said sure why not. Obviously this man was a loon, what kind of a doctor says it is ok to skydive. So later I got in contact with with my local S&TA. I told him what was going on, and to my surprise he said he was aware of several skydivers with pacemakers, and they have both been jumping for a couple decades. 

In February after healing for 4 months and getting the thumbs up from the doc I started jumping again. I have completed almost 150 jumps this year alone, and I feel great with no complications from the pacemaker. So... if you are reading this because you are in a similar situation, skydiving is not necessarily over for you. Listen to your doctor, take some time to heal, wouldn't be a bad idea to let staff at your DZ know about your medical situation. But you can do this, and you will be back in the sky in no time. 

-Take care, Blue Skies

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Pacemakers are more common than most people think and having bradycardia and getting a pacemaker installed is better than most forms of heart disease. Most people learn they have heart disease when they have a heart attack, but by then the damage is long done. In general, having a pacemaker shouldent affect your daily life much if at all. There are not really that many activities that I can think of that are unsafe with a pacemaker. I dont know why you couldent skydive or even BASE jump with one. The only concern I could think of would be the possible effect of a hard opening on the device.

Edited by Westerly

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