LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -You've probably heard about pacemakers when it comes to the care of patients suffering from heart disease. Pacemakers help improve quality of life, but now there are more advances that are making an even bigger difference.

Nearly 5,000,000 Americans suffer from heart failure, a condition that can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, inability to lay flat or perform usual daily activities. Patients suffering with these symptoms can benefit from pacemakers.

"A patient needs a pacemaker if their heart is very slow and they are symptomatic with it. They are almost passing out or passing out as a result of their heart either dropping beats for over three seconds or that their heart is becoming very slow," explained Dr. Bassam Saliba, a cardiologist at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

The pacemaker contains a computer chip that records the energy of your heart, and if the heart shows signs of slowing the device will fire an electrical impulse.

"If the patient has enough electricity in his or her heart, the pacemaker is not doing anything, but as you drop beats below a set number then the pacemaker kicks in," Dr. Saliba explained.

We all experience days of feeling overtired and fatigued, but that doesn't mean everyone needs a pacemaker. Dr. Saliba recommends these devices to a select group of patients.

"Your electricity is weak and you're showing us that you have a lot of weakening, you're symptomatic with it, you've passed out or you've got close to it, this is the indication to put the pacemaker in you," Dr. Saliba said.

Dr. Saliba says he treats heart failure very aggressively. If a patient's heart shows signs of slowing, especially during increased activity, then it may be time to implant a pacemaker.

"You can argue the point and say 'well they're old and they probably don't do much,' but a lot of times you put a pacemaker in these people and when they show up all of a sudden they're doing more they are able do so much more," Dr. Saliba said.

In other Heart Month news, mark your calendar for the healthy heart screenings, which will be held on Feb. 29 and March 1 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center. The free screening includes an electrocardiogram, heart risk assessment, waist circumference, height, weight and body mass test. For only $20, you can receive lab tests that include your A1C, good, bad and total cholesterol and triglycerides. To make an appointment, call 580-585-5406.

Another Good Hearted Woman luncheon will be held on Friday, March 4, at noon in the Oakwood Conference Center. The cost is $5 and cardiologist Dr. Ronald Woodson will be speaking about women and heart disease. To make a reservation, call 580-585-5406.

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