Monday, November 6, 2017
NORMAN - 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 and effective in correcting conditions like bradycardia, but the new Micra pacemaker offers patients another option, said Alan Kettelkamp, manager of the Cardiac Cath Lab at Norman Regional Health System.
The Micra device is also compatible with MRI imaging equipment and will not leave a scar on the chest, which Anwar believes are great benefits for patients.
Thrift has a medical condition that causes her to scar easily. She was excited to hear about the Micra device since she did not have to worry about future procedures to remove scar tissue buildup related to a shoulder incision. She received the Micra device in August.
"I can tell a big difference in that I am not so exhausted all the time," said Thrift. "I didn't realize how it was affecting me because I adjusted to it or thought it was old age. The difference now is phenomenal."
Thanks to the procedure, Thrift now has the energy to keep up with her six grandsons and return to her hobbies, which include quilting, refinishing furniture and repurposing antique jewelry.
"I was terrified when Dr. Anwar said I had to have a pacemaker," she said. "But it's so small and non-invasive. I'm impressed that it's not going to limit my life and my life was definitely limited without it out since it impacted my ability to do activities. I'm so glad the Micra was available."
To learn more about the Micra pacemaker or to make an appointment with one of the cardiologists at Norman Regional Health System, visit us online at www.NormanRegional.com/heart.