Before that day in January 1987, when she blacked out in class during her senior year of high school, Dawn, of Newark, Delaware, had never had any serious health problems. After the blackout, Dawn experienced some short-term memory loss, a common occurrence for many with heart rhythm problems, as she would learn.
Several months later, Dawn was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia (VT) and Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). "It was pretty scary stuff," as 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).
In 2000, Dawn and her husband decided to start a family, 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 some new challenges. The regular visits to her EP clinic every 3 to 4 months for routine monitor checks changed to every 2 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 afterwards. 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 via a standard phone line from home or anywhere in the United States. "It's so simple to use. I understood how to transmit right away," she said.
Three months after receiving the 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 5 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 CareLink Network, it would have been inconvenient to get to the clinic since I now have the baby and am not allowed to drive."
When Dawn and her family took a vacation 4 hours from home in June 2003, the Medtronic CareLink Monitor went along. "Before I had the monitor, I would have been quite concerned about travelling 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."
This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving ICD therapy. Medtronic, Inc. invited this person to share her story candidly. As you read it, please bear in mind that these experiences are specific to this particular patient. Results vary; not every response is the same.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.