For more than a year, Karen Thrift felt increasingly exhausted by simple activities, was short of breath and had a fluttering in her chest.
“It was so bad I would have to hold on to things to walk and it felt like my legs and arms were made out of lead,” said Thrift, 63, of Tuttle, Oklahoma. “I cancelled trips and missed a lot of quality time with my grandchildren.”
She finally decided to make an appointment with Dr. Muhammad Anwar, an interventional cardiologist at Norman Regional Health System, when those symptoms almost caused her to pass out.
Tests confirmed that Thrift has bradycardia, a condition resulting in a slow or irregular heart rate that is usually less than 60 beats per minute in adults. Thrift’s heart rate was around 30 beats per minute. Bradycardia often causes fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and, in some instances, fainting spells.
Correcting this electrical issue in the heart often requires the use of a pacemaker — a device that sends electrical impulses to the heart to increase the heart rate. Since Thrift’s condition was not a result of heart disease or heart damage and only affected the left ventricle in the heart, Anwar suggested the new Medtronic Micra pacemaker.
New Technology, New Lease on Life
A traditional pacemaker requires a surgical incision near the shoulder and the creation of a pocket under the skin to hold the unit. The pacemaker sends electrical impulses through wires to the heart.
The Micra pacemaker is the size of a large vitamin, which is less than one-tenth as big as the traditional pacemaker. It is a self-contained pacemaker that is placed directly into the heart through a catheter inserted in the femoral vein in the patient’s leg. This requires a very small incision and the catheter is removed after implanting the device.
The traditional pacemaker is safe…