Marching To A New Beat

Pacemaker Restores Busy Mom’s Heart Rate and Good Health

Janet Smoak knew something was wrong. She was gaining weight, felt depressed, confused, out of breath, dizzy and exhausted.

“There was a time that I stayed in bed for three days” she said. “I couldn’t walk from one side of my office to the other without being out of breath.”

Janet Smoak inside Lexington Medical Center

Janet is a 46-year-old wife and mother of two sons who works as a division administrator for Lexington Medical Center’s Physician Network. She went to her doctor, thinking she was falling apart.

She underwent every screening from blood work to heart tests at Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. Ultimately, doctors determined Janet had a condition called bradycardia, which is an abnormally slow heart rate.

The doctors wanted to implant a pacemaker. With her symptoms continuing to get worse, she agreed.

William Brabham, MD, FHRS, an electrophysiologist at Lexington Cardiology, was Janet’s doctor.

Dr. William Brabham

“It’s reasonable to implant a pacemaker if patients have a low resting heart rate and fatigue, shortness of breath with activity, and the inability to increase their heart rate appropriately,” Dr. Brabham said. “It’s also recommended if people have passed out and have low resting heart rates.”

Dr. Brabham and his team inserted the pacemaker below the collar bone and passed wires into the heart to help promote a healthy heart rate. The results were excellent.

“After I got the pacemaker, I immediately started feeling better and had energy,” Janet said. “I can honestly say for the first time, ‘I feel good.’”

An abnormally slow heart rate is usually defined as less than 60 beats per minute. But a slow heart rate on its own does not necessarily indicate a problem. For example, some well-conditioned athletes have slow resting heart rates. And fatigue may not indicate a heart problem; instead, it could simply be a result of the hectic pace of life. But when several symptoms are present, it’s time to take a closer look.

Since having the pacemaker implanted nearly one year ago, Janet has lost 30 pounds, has more energy and feels good again.

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