Tag Archives: pacemaker

Finding the Right Beat: Pacemaker puts Blythewood Woman Back in the Cycling Seat

Sharon Sherbourne knew something wasn’t right. An avid cyclist and runner, she was training for a long-distance race when her legs felt heavy and her heart rate remained low even when she was exercising vigorously.

The 67 year old had begun an exercise routine about 15 years earlier, while she helped implement wellness programs as vice president of human resources at a Blythewood manufacturing plant. “I knew I had to walk the walk, so I started doing aerobics. A friend from church got me involved in the running community, so I started training for a 5K, and that morphed into doing an 8K.”

Sharon cycling in Blythewood

She eventually completed four full 26-mile marathons, along with numerous half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks. About 10 years ago, she added long-distance cycling to her workouts, but recently, she found herself out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. She made an appointment to see a doctor.

“My first cardiologist told me I was simply getting older and I probably didn’t need to be doing all that stuff,” Sharon said. “But I knew it was more than that. You know your own body.”

Then, she was referred to Lexington Cardiology and William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, an electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Dr. Brabham specializes in the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. He scheduled a treadmill stress test for Sharon.

“As her workload increased on the treadmill, her heart rate peaked in the 70s to 80s, which is very unusual for her age. At 67, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for her heart rate to reach the 150s to 160s, especially with the level of activity that she typically would participate in,” Dr. Brabham said.

He diagnosed her problem as chronotropic incompetence, which is the inability of the heart to increase its rate to a level that matches a person’s activity level, combined with AV block, a condition where the signals from the top chambers of the heart don’t make it to the bottom chambers.

“It appeared most likely a result of age-related changes in the conduction system of the heart,” he said. “Just the way the rest of your body ages, the conduction system in your heart can age to varying degrees.”

Dr. William Brabham, Lexington Cardiology

He recommended a pacemaker, a device that monitors heart rate and stimulates the heart if it drops below a pre-programmed rate. A dual-chamber pacemaker, the type Sharon has, also restores the connection between the top and bottom chambers of the heart.

Sharon’s pacemaker was implanted in March; by late June, she was training for a 100-mile bike ride.

“I feel fantastic. It had gotten to the point where, when I was walking up stairs at the house, I’d get to the top and I’d be completely out of breath. So I had my pacemaker implant on March 7, I came home March 8 and the very first thing I did was walk up the stairs to see if it had made a difference. It had.”

For Sharon, a mother of two, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of one, the experience drove home the importance of listening to her body and going the extra mile for answers.

“Age should not be the marker for anything. Your physical fitness level, what you enjoy doing, what you’re used to doing — that should be what drives your behavior and drives your medical practitioner’s response,” she said. “I felt that Dr. Brabham really understood that and worked with me to make all of it happen.”

Fixing Abnormal Heart Rhythms

Did you know your heart has an electrical system? It does! And it helps your heart keep a healthy beat. When something goes wrong with a heart’s rhythm, an electrophysiologist can help. In this WLTX interview, Dr. Christopher Rowley of Lexington Cardiology at Lexington Medical Center talks about fixing abnormal heartbeats.

 

Christopher P. Rowley, MD, graduated magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and earned his medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He then completed his internal medicine internship and residency at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, while completing Duke’s Clinical Research Training Program. He went on to complete cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology fellowships at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Dr. Christopher Rowley

Board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Rowley is also a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the Heart Rhythm Society. Prior to joining Lexington Medical Center’s network of care, he provided cardiac electrophysiology services at Brookwood Medical Center and Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and at Shelby Medical Center in Alabaster, Alabama.

He’s accepting new patents. Visit LexCardio.com.

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Lexington Medical Center Implants Micra Wireless Pacemaker

Lexington Medical Center has become the first hospital in South Carolina to implant a new wireless pacemaker known as Micra™ into a patient to fix a slow heartbeat. Called the world’s smallest pacemaker, this device is not visible under the skin, and because there are no wires connected to it, there is a lower risk of complications. The Lexington Medical Heart Center team performed this pacemaker implantation inside the hospital’s cardiac electrophysiology lab on March 14, 2017.

“This device represents a significant breakthrough in pacing technology,” said William W. Brabham, MD, FHRS, of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. “The ability to deliver pacing therapy using such a small device is revolutionary. It’s very exciting to think of the possibilities in the future.”

Dr. William Brabham

A pacemaker helps restore a healthy heart rhythm by sending tiny electrical signals to the heart to increase the heart rate. Traditionally, pacemakers have been implanted below the collarbone through an incision and have included leads, which are insulated wires. The leads carry the electrical impulse from the pacemaker to the heart.

The size of a vitamin capsule, Micra is more than 90 percent smaller than other pacemakers. It’s implanted in a minimally-invasive procedure through a vein in the leg directly into the heart, removing the need for leads to act as pulse generators and the appearance of any visible scar below the collarbone. Because leads in traditional pacemakers may shift, there is a small risk of those devices not working properly when needed; with no leads, Micra eliminates that concern. Also, its size and location can mean fewer post-implant activity restrictions and no obstructions to shoulder movement.

Micra

Manufactured by Medtronic, Micra is the first FDA-approved wireless pacemaker. It’s for patients who need a single chamber pacemaker. The device has more than a 99 percent implant success rate and 48 percent fewer major complications reported than with traditional pacemakers.

The Lexington Medical Heart Center team has received extensive training on proper device implantation. Dr. Brabham and Robert Malanuk, MD, FACC, performed the first Micra implantation at the hospital

For more information on Lexington Medical Center’s comprehensive cardiovascular care program, visit LexMed.com/Heart.