Campaign Empowers People With a Slow Heartbeat to Learn About Treatment Options and How to Have an Informed Discussion With Their Doctor
Famed dancer, actress, and director Debbie Allen has teamed up with Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) today to kick off “Join the Pace Makers,” a national campaign designed to empower people with a condition called bradycardia, also known as a slow heartbeat, to learn about their available treatment options so that they can have an informed conversation with their doctor.
People living with bradycardia can experience a number of symptoms ranging from general lethargy and shortness of breath to fainting or syncope. There are a number of treatment options available, including medication therapy and implanting a pacemaker, which delivers electrical pulses to help regulate a person’s heartbeat.
Approximately 1.5 million people are living with a pacemaker, and that incidence is expected to rise due to an aging population. Anyone who needs a pacemaker, or knows someone who needs a pacemaker, can find the latest information about pacemaker safety, personal stories of people living with a pacemaker, Debbie Allen’s personal story, and information about device options – including a pacemaker that allows for MRI access – on the campaign’s website, www.jointhepacemakers.com.
“Heart disease runs in my family and, because of this, I know that any decision about heart health is an important one,” said Allen. “I ‘Joined’ the Pace Makers because I believe in the power of a well-informed patient, especially when it leads to having a conversation with his or her physician about the right treatment option for them. I am a strong advocate for empowering patients to be an integral part of making the best healthcare decisions for themselves today so they can have the best healthcare in the future.”
Perhaps best known for her roles in the movie and television series “Fame,” and most recently directing and acting in the hit television show “Grey’s Anatomy,” Debbie has been dancing for her entire career and has had her fair share of muscle strains and torn ligaments, requiring three MRIs to help her doctors detect an injury. While it may be safe for Debbie to undergo an MRI, it can be dangerous for people who have a pacemaker due to the risks of harmful interaction between MRI and the device.
“MRIs are an important tool used to help detect and diagnose serious illnesses such as stroke, cancer, and neurologic disorders,” said Lee Friedman, M.D., a radiologist at St. Petersburg General Hospital in Tampa. “As a radiologist, I recognize the value of patients being able to have an MRI; unfortunately, I’ve had to turn away pacemaker patients in the past who might have benefited greatly from MRI imaging. When I needed a pacemaker myself, I talked with my cardiologist about my options and having the option of a pacemaker that allows me access to an MRI was the obvious choice for me.”
MRI scans are quickly becoming the preferred imaging technology among physicians due to the speed and accuracy of the picture it provides, allowing physicians to more rapidly make a diagnosis. Until recently, patients with implanted pacemakers were denied access to MRI procedures because the interaction can be harmful.i, ii, iii, iv Earlier this year, the FDA approved Medtronic’s Revo MRI® SureScan® pacing system, the first and only pacing system in the U.S. designed for use in the MRI environment. Revo MRI is labeled “MR-Conditional,” which means it requires a complete system consisting of the Revo MRI pacemaker and two SureScan leads to be eligible under certain conditions for an MRI scan. The device was designed to reduce or eliminate several hazards produced by the strong electromagnetic fields present in an MRI enviroment environment, which can be as much as 30,000 times more powerful than the Earth’s magnetic field.
According to a national survey issued by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) in February 2011, improved dialogue between patients and doctors about pacemaker options is needed. Results showed a significant lack of awareness among patients about the potentially harmful interaction between a traditional pacemaker and an MRI. As a result, Medtronic and NCOA will host educational seminars about heart health and pacemaker safety in conjunction with senior dances through NCOA’s National Institute of Senior Centers. Beginning in early 2012, these seminars will provide the local community an opportunity to learn about pacemaker safety, the latest available technology from a local healthcare professional, and what their options are should they ever need a pacemaker. To find more information about Join the Pace Makers and the local free senior dances, please go to www.JointhePaceMakers.com or www.ncoa.org.
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