Health Plus: Pacemakers now coin-sized - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Pacemakers now coin-sized


Forget what you've been told about pacemakers in the past.

These days the devices are smaller and more efficient.

Carol Hoeweler's heart problem was caught and corrected by two Covenant cardiologists and a pacemaker; the size of a paper clip.

"Cardiac pacemakers now are about the size of a 50-cent piece and just as thin. These devices are now made to last seven to ten years," said Dr. Cary Rose, a Covenant Medical Center cardiologist.

Last year, the Dubuque woman came to Covenant Medical Center for a second opinion after she saw the hospital's doctors talking about heart health on KWWL.

"By that time, I was needing a scooter to get around," said Hoeweler.

In addition to needing 20 pounds of fluid drained from her lungs, the 73-year-old had an abnormal heart rhythm.

"She was in a series of what we call junctional rhythms when the heart is not beating in sync, but, in fact, is beating against itself. So what happens is the blood instead of beating forward into the body goes backward. It goes backwards up into the lungs and so they get tired and very short of breath," Rose said.

Doctor Rose says Carol was smart to be persistent when she was so short of breath.

"Iowans are some of the hardest working people I know and they don't like to come to the doctor and they think, oh, I'll be okay or it's normal to live like this. It's not. It's not normal to be tired. It's not normal to be short of breath and we can help as we did with Carol," he said.

Now much healthier, Carol's dropped a lot of weight and the need for a scooter to get around.

Carol's pacemaker is so advanced, it speeds up to allow her to increase her heart rate for exercise or other high-intensity activities.

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