Before that day in January 1987, when she blacked out in class during her senior year of high school, Dawn, from Newark, Delaware, had never had any serious health problems. After the blackout, Dawn experienced short-term memory loss, a common occurrence for many with heart rhythm problems, she would learn.
Several months later, Dawn was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia (VT) and Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). "It was pretty scary stuff," she recalls.
Thanks to a regimen of beta blocker medications, Dawn had no serious heart rhythm problems for the next 11 years. When the blackouts returned in 1998, Dawn's doctor recommended that she get a Medtronic GEM® II DR (Model 7273) implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
Dawn and her husband decided to start a family in 2000, which Dawn says she "would never have considered without the ICD." The day after she discontinued the beta blockers in preparation for the pregnancy, her ICD delivered its first therapeutic shock. Dawn continued to experience some heart rhythm problems during her pregnancy but delivered a healthy baby girl in May 2001.
Now caring for her baby, Dawn faced new challenges. The regular visits to her EP clinic every three to four months for routine monitor checks changed to every two months as the battery of her ICD neared the end of its service life. Also, when her device periodically delivered therapeutic shocks, she was told not to drive for several months. Having to depend on others for rides to the clinic, despite the fact it was only 15 minutes away, made Dawn feel "like a burden," especially when her husband had to miss work.
Early in 2003, Dawn's clinic provided her with a solution that offered new freedom and greater peace of mind – the Medtronic CareLink® Network, a remote monitoring service for cardiac device patients. Using the system's portable monitor, Dawn was now able to transmit her ICD data at her clinic's direction from home or while away. "It's so simple to use. I understood how to transmit right away," she said.
Three months after receiving her Medtronic CareLink Monitor, Dawn experienced "something" but wasn't sure if it had been a shock or a dream. She immediately called her clinic, Cardiology Consultants, P.A., in Newark, and was instructed to transmit her data via the Medtronic CareLink Network. "Within five minutes, the EP nurse called me with details about what had, in fact, been a shock delivered by the ICD as I was losing consciousness. Without the Medtronic CareLink Network, it would have been inconvenient to get to the clinic since I had the baby with me and was not allowed to drive."
When Dawn and her family took a vacation four hours from home in June 2003, the Medtronic CareLink Monitor went along. "Before I had the monitor, I would have been quite concerned about traveling that far from home and my clinic," says Dawn. "Having the monitor with me and knowing I could be 'connected' with my clinic within minutes made me feel much better."
When it came time to replace her device, Dawn says she specifically asked if her new device would offer Medtronic CareLink remote monitoring. Her new device, implanted in the spring of 2004, is a Maximo® model that offers the remote follow-up that Dawn has come to trust. Today, Dawn enjoys traveling with her family. She says, laughing, "We've been to Disney and Palm Springs, and the Medtronic CareLink Monitor always comes along."
The Medtronic CareLink Network is an Internet-based remote monitoring service for patients with implanted cardiac devices that is comparable to an in-office check. Patients send their device data from the comfort of their homes, and their clinicians access it using the Internet. The service allows clinicians to improve clinic operations and provide patients with better care, more conveniently.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
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