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Debbie’s Story

Fainting (Unexplained)

After Debbie fainted the first time, she didn’t think much about it. As a cardiac nurse, she knew there were many reasons people faint. But the fainting continued, and within a couple of months she was passing out three times a day. Often, Debbie felt a faint fluttering in her chest before she fainted, and if she coughed she could sometimes stop the episode.

At first, her doctor suspected it was coronary artery disease or an electrical issue with her heart. Test results were normal and so for two months Debbie underwent heart monitoring, first with a Holter monitor and later with a heart card. The monitoring was inconclusive.

After a severe episode, her cardiologist decided to give Debbie a Medtronic Reveal® Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM). Debbie did not experience any complications from the implant procedure. However, all surgical procedures carry some risk.

Five days later, Debbie had an event. Immediately afterward, she placed the Reveal Patient Assistant over her device and pressed a button. This gave her doctor the information needed for a diagnosis: atrial tachycardia. He prescribed medication to control the condition, but the arrhythmia persisted.

Debbie was referred to an electrophysiologist for an ablation. During the surgery, he found that the tachycardia caused Debbie’s heart to degenerate into atrial fibrillation. She started new medication and had a second ablation weeks later. Debbie was free of her arrhythmia for a year, and during that time her Reveal ICM was removed.

Unfortunately, the arrhythmia returned and with it, the fainting episodes. After trying multiple medications, Debbie had a third ablation. Several months later, her symptoms returned and she was given external heart monitors that she wore for two to three weeks at a time.

After Debbie started fainting again, her doctor wanted more extensive heart monitoring so he implanted another Reveal Insertable Cardiac Monitor.

Today, Debbie records each episode with the Reveal Patient Assistant and then sends the information electronically from her home to her doctor’s office using the Medtronic CareLink® Network. Based on the information the Reveal ICM has gathered, her doctors have determined that she has a rare, aggressive form of atrial tachycardia that is very resistant to treatment. She is trying new medications.

In addition to using the Reveal ICM to diagnose Debbie’s heart condition, her doctors rely on it to determine a course of treatment and then monitor how her heart responds to the therapy.

With her fainting under better control, Debbie is back to practicing ballet. She encourages people who experience fainting episodes to make a doctor appointment right away.

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This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.