Patient gets big help from a tiny device

News Archive October 06, 2011

Patient gets big help from a tiny device

Patient gets big help from a tiny device
With pacemaker, he feels ‘like a new man’

For seven years, Larry Schweitzer's pacemaker worked reliably around the clock to correct an irregular heartbeat that made him feel dizzy and light-headed.

The device, Schweitzer said, "made me feel like a new man."

So when the battery of his pacemaker ran low, Schweitzer returned to Loyola University Hospital to get a pacemaker replacement from Dr. Alexander Green, a heart rhythm specialist (electrophysiologist). Schweitzer underwent the minor surgery in the morning, and went home that afternoon.

Schweitzer is among the more than two million Americans who have an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. Rather than beating regularly, the upper two chambers of the heart quiver.

A pacemaker is among the treatment options that Loyola's electrophysiologists offer to treat atrial fibrillation and other irregular heartbeats. In addition to treating routine heart rhythm disorders, Loyola is a major regional and national referral center for complex rhythm problems, offering options not available at other centers.

A pacemaker is a small, lightweight electronic device implanted in patients with slow heart rates or prolonged pauses between heartbeats. It monitors and stimulates the heart with precisely timed electrical pulses that will keep the heart beating at the proper rate. The average life of a pacemaker is 6 to 10 years.

In the procedure to replace the pacemaker, the doctor makes a new incision over the old one, and then replaces the old device. The doctor also checks to see whether the leads (wires) to the heart need to be replaced.

"It was easy," Schweitzer said. "The doctors knew what they were doing. I felt like it was very routine."

To make an appointment with a Loyola electrophysiologist, call (888) LUHS-888.

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