Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Valerie has what Dr. Khan explains as Atrial Fibrillation or AFib. It is the most common heart arrythmia in the world that causes the top chambers of the heart, call the atria, to beat erratically and feels like a racing heart or fluttering. A normal heart beats at 60-90 beats per minute where a heart in atrial fibrillation beats at over 500 beats per minute. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation can be different for each patient, for some patients there are no symptoms and others are diagnosed only after a stroke. Valerie also had a heart condition called cardiomyopathy, or a weak heart, which places her at a higher risk to have sudden cardiac death.
The right treatment for Valerie, to make sure her heart never goes into cardiac arrest or she has a death episode, Dr. Khan advised the use of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD to constantly monitor the heart’s rhythm. It’s there preventatively, in case the heart’s rhythm gets out of sync, the ICD sends an electrical impulse to the heart to put it back into proper rhythm, sometimes without the patient even being aware.
Smart Technology Provides Convenience and Simplicity
While ICDs have been used for decades, Valerie was one of the first patients in Michigan to receive a Bluetooth®-enabled ICD. She said, “I was afraid.” But not for the reasons one might expect, true she was one of the first patients, and a surgical procedure was involved, but her fear, “I’m not very technologically savvy, that part scared me,” Valerie explains. “Turns out the App was very easy to operate. I didn’t even need my kids to show me how to make it work!”
The benefits of the Bluetooth®-enabled ICD are many. The App on Valerie’s smart phone allows her to send a message to Dr. Khan and his team through the App or it will send an immediate alert to him should Valerie not be able. At all times, both Dr. Khan and Valerie can monitor her heart and her health. Valerie is a very active person, swimming and walking her family’s Christmas tree farm, “I can see what my exercise level has been for the day, or the life of my battery, even send a message if I’m not sure what’s happening to me,” Valerie shares. “I’m grateful that I don’t have the big, bulky transmitter used with older ICDs. I can travel anywhere and it’s all on my phone.”
Valerie is feeling very positive about where life is going since her Bluetooth-enabled ICD was implanted and is thankful for the convenience and simplicity it gives to her life.