Today’s Choice Impacts Tomorrow’s Care

By Guest Blogger: Marlou Janssen, President, Biotronik, Inc

 Every year more than 500,000 people are implanted with cardiac devices. When a cardiac event happens, decisions are often made quickly without taking the time to research options and benefits. It’s important to know that the device you and your physician choose to manage recurrent arrhythmia can impact the care you receive for other illnesses and diseases in the future.

Millions of Americans are living with pacemakers that limit access to invaluable MRI scans.

Until recently, the risks posed by MRI—magnetic resonance imaging—scans typically prohibited access for patients with cardiac devices. Many patients with pacemakers have been unable to undergo an MRI scan that provides critical details to determine diagnosis and treatment due to potential complications that may occur during the scan. MRI scans use magnetic fields and radio frequency waves to take detailed pictures inside the body. The magnetic field can damage metal devices inside the body leading to malfunction such as triggering unnecessary rapid pacing.

Every year more than 34 million MRI scans are performed on patients to diagnose cancer, heart disease, aneurysms, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many other diseases that impact soft tissue. MRI is used to assess the heart, blood vessels and potential brain injury resulting from stroke—an often life threatening event that may require rapid diagnosis and assessment to determine treatment that minimizes long-term effect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 795,000 people in the United States experience a stroke every year. Unfortunately, it is very possible that you or a loved one with an existing pacemaker will experience a stroke and be denied access to an MRI.

However, this is changing. There are now FDA-approved pacemakers available that have been designed for use during MRI scans, providing patients and caregivers an option to discuss with their physicians. It is important to make an informed decision that ensures access to this life-saving technology that can impact your future healthcare.

 Information and opinions presented in our Guest Blog Posts do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

 American Heart Association does not endorse any products or services represented in this blog.

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