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Cardiac Pacemaker

I’m The Lucky One

When Janet Sannicandro first found out that she needed a cardiac pacemaker, she was stunned. “I was in denial,” says Janet.When Janet Sannicandro first found out that she needed a cardiac pacemaker, she was stunned. “I was in denial,” says Janet. “I’m only 51 years old. Why is this happening to me?”

The Milford resident had been experiencing bouts of dizziness and fainting spells. She felt dragged out and unusually tired. Upon further investigation by Dr. Marjorie Bacon, a cardiologist with Hopedale Cardiology in Upton, it became clear that Janet needed a pacemaker, which is a small device placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.

Janet admits that it was difficult to accept her need for a pacemaker at such a young age. However, she changed her outlook from unfortunate to “lucky” when she learned that she was a perfect candidate for a new pacemaker which allows patients to have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. At the time, Milford Regional was only the second hospital statewide to implant this revolutionary Revo pacing system by Medtronics, which received FDA approval for MRI use in 2011.

Prior to this breakthrough technology, patients that had a pacemaker could not undergo an MRI. The radiofrequency and static fields emitted by the powerful magnet could affect the pacing systems operation causing tissue damage, unintended cardiac stimulation and pacemaker malfunction. More than 200,000 patients annually in the United States have to forego an MRI scan because they have a pacemaker. The largest demographic impacted by this diagnostic limitation are those age 65 and older who comprise 86% of those with a pacing system. This group is twice as likely to need an MRI due to increased musculoskeletal and neurological problems.

Because MRI is considered the gold standard diagnostic tool for neurologists, oncologists and orthopedic surgeons, it is estimated that 50 – 75% of pacemaker patients will have a medical need for an MRI over the lifetime of their device. According to cardiologist William Shine, MD, who implanted Janet’s Revo pacemaker, she was a good candidate because her chances of one day needing an MRI were higher due to her young age.

“Pacemakers are essential to the health and well being of many cardiac patients,” states Dr. Shine. “With the introduction of this new, cutting-edge technology in pacemakers, patients can now benefit from MRI’s as well. This is a significant advancement in the overall care of our cardiac patients.”

Janet was “totally impressed” by her care from the cardiologists’ office to Milford Regional. “The staff was superb,” she said emphatically. “The TLC I got was incredible and the follow up care was great.”

She could feel her energy returning almost immediately following the pacemaker implant, and was back to work after a couple of weeks. In the end, Janet feels the timing was perfect. “I’m delighted to be one of the first to have this new pacemaker,” she explains, “because I may very well need an MRI someday. I’m the lucky one.”

Go to In Their Own Words


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