Shocking, But True
Device Restores Man’s Heart to Natural Harmony
Every morning, Jeff Goldstein swings his feet out of bed and lightly pats the small, 2” x 2” object implanted under the skin just above the collar bone. In the three years since its installation, the object — an implantable cardioverterdefibrillator (ICD) — has saved Jeff’s life twice, and he knows it likely will again.
Using electrical impulses, the small, battery-operated generator recognizes and corrects unusual and sudden abnormalities in the heart’s rhythm. It treats both ventricular tachycardia, a rapid rhythm from the ventricle that doesn’t allow the heart enough time to fill with blood; and ventricular fibrillation, which is totally disorganized beating from the ventricles that doesn’t allow the heart to pump out blood at all.
The first time Mr. Goldstein’s ICD stimulated his heart back to normalcy, he was in one of the most remote places on our planet: the waters off the coast of Antarctica.
“My wife and I were on a cruise three years ago, and we were dancing,” said the 63-year-old Crofton resident. “All of a sudden, I felt a jolt through my body, and had to sit down. It turned out the unit recognized my heart beating abnormally, and I avoided a cardiac event miles away from any real hospital.”
Mr. Goldstein’s ICD saved his life a second time in September 2007, as he wrapped up a session at the AAMC Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.
“If it wasn’t for my ICD, I’d be dead.”
“I wasn’t lightheaded, I wasn’t dizzy, and had no chest pain of any kind,” he said. “The next thing I knew, I was being picked up off the floor. The nurses at cardiac rehab tended to me and a minute or so later, the ICD fired again. They took me immediately to the ER.”
Readings from the ICD unit inside Mr. Goldstein’s chest showed his heart had stopped. Twice.
“[The tech] who read the results told me that my heart had been in total defibrillation. If it wasn’t for my ICD, I’d be dead,” Goldstein said.
AAMC hosts a quarterly ICD Support Group to provide support and education to more than 100 patients either currently using an ICD device or seeking more information on the benefits of the mini generator. Offering a different clinical speaker each time, the support group receives rave reviews from those who regularly attend.
“The idea behind an ICD can be frightening for people,” said BARBARA L. BEAN, M.D., an AAMC cardiologist who started the AAMC ICD Support Group. “The more education we offer, the better people will understand their ICDs and why they’re important. It becomes an educational tool and a way for these patients to connect with each other.”
“One of the most peculiar things in life is when someone goes to sleep and just doesn’t wake up because their heart stops beating normally,” said Mr. Goldstein. “There is no rhyme or reason for it, so it gives me great comfort to have my ICD.”
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