Watchful Eye Taken to Heart

Nearly a thousand people die every day because their heart suddenly stops working. The heart is a muscle, and, when it gets weak, it can mean trouble.

Dr. Thomas Doyle, a cardiologist with the Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, says a normal heart should pump out 50- to 60- percent of the blood that's in it. He says a heart muscle that gets weak and only pumps out 30- to 35-percent of the blood puts a person at risk for sudden cardiac death.

Doyle says implanted cardiac defibrillators can give patients in that situation a fighting chance. He says the devices continuously monitor the heart. If the heart would go out of rhythm, the device could recognize whether it's a life-threatening situation, automatically charge an electrical charge and shock the heart.

Implantable defibrillators have been around since the early 1990s, but Doyle says the latest generation are only about a quarter of the size. They can be implanted near the collarbone, instead of the abdomen. Plus, they utilize current wireless technology. Doyle says doctors can put a monitoring box in the patient's home. The device will wake up periodically and send a signal to the box and download any information regarding the defibrillator. He says it can tell if there was a heart rhythm problem, a voltage problem, or a problem with the wires of the device. Doyle says that allows doctors to spot problems before a patient even knows anything's wrong. If needed, they can even access the device if the patient is away from the box.

Doyle says it's a watchful eye that saves lives. He says the vast majority of patients that get the devices are still functional - driving cars, maintaining jobs - and having a defibrillator will protect them from sudden death.

Implanting the device usually requires only an overnight hospital stay. Batteries last five to eight years and can be replaced on an outpatient basis. Most insurance covers the device.

For more information on heart disease, visit the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org.

Upcoming special event:
Physicians and clinicians are invited to attend the 2nd Annual Dr. Robert Roeder Cardiovascular Educational Series.

Friday, October 13
8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

This conference is designed for cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, general internists, family practitioners, and other cardiology health care providers. It will focus on the Medical Aspects of Heart Failure. Special guest speakers include Andrew Kao, Cardiologist at Cardiovascular Consultants, P.C., in Kansas City, Dr. James Longabaugh, family practitioner at Sabetha Family Practice and cardiologists from the Cotton-O’Neil Heart Center.

For more information or to register for this CME credited conference, call (785) 354-5825.


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