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Making peace with pacemakers

MRI compatible pacemakers are the latest rage in medical technology and have gained a positive track record and widespread acceptance from cardiologists of both national and international repute.

Hitherto, MRI scans have been deemed unsafe for those with cardiac conditions, particularly the patients with pacemakers that help them perform the regular heart functions. Research worldwide has found that about 50-60 per cent of patients with implantable cardiac devices need MRI scans for better diagnosis, but the inherent contradiction in going ahead with the hazardous magnetic resonance imaging that would interfere with the traditional pacemaker has always plagued the best of doctors.

In fact, it has been effectively demonstrated that a traditional pacemaker, which helps treat a form of cardiac arrhythmia known as bradycardia (slow heart beats) and normalise heart rhythm, may pose challenges for patients with other health complications who need to be exposed to MRI scans. The list of potential patients may include high-risk elderly people with brain diseases such as dementia, or those with maladies of the spinal cord, joints and other age-related vulnerabilities.

Moreover, people over the age of 65 or above may need to undergo checkups of the liver, gall bladder, pancreas or kidney, but might also have an implant whose metallic wires could negatively influence the magnetic field and the resultant scan, thereby worsening the patients’ conditions.

In most such cases, alternatives to MRI, which are often not that accurate, are prescribed, much to the detriment of the patient as well as the process of treatment. Often, the metalloid pacemaker, in the influence of the magnetic field, would damage cardiac tissues, in case the MRI scan is allowed to take place.

On the other hand, continued bradycardia would aggravate symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, fainting or other similar effects on the body, if proper diagnosis is not done in time.
To be on the safe side, doctors are increasingly relying on MRI compatible pacemakers, which have been demonstrated to withstand powerful magnetic forces during MRI scanning and allow patients to undergo scan in a 1.5 Tesla MRI machine without any undue repercussions. MRI conditional pacemakers,   are produced with modified hardware to bring down the risk of high impact magnetic fields to absolute minimum.

Evidently, MRI compatible pacemakers are a technological boon to not only the patients who can now wear the implant without getting bothered about the untoward consequences of wearing one, but also the medical fraternity, which can now prescribe the items without undue worries about their negative impact on the patients’ health.     

Patients with bradycardia have therefore never had it better, particularly in the wake of their needing MRI scans, which would be often and for anybody with the heart condition.  
In other words, it is important to create awareness on the benefits of the new age pacemakers so that most people can avail them.
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