LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma has the third highest death rate in the nation from heart disease, and it's the leading killer in Oklahoma, surpassing any other diseases.
New advances in pacemakers give hope to those suffering from heart disease. Lawton cardiologist Dr. Bassam Saliba explains how the new technology works.
Cardiovascular disease is a catchall term that includes numerous heart related problems resulting from plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. According to Dr. Saliba, many patients can benefit from the latest 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," Dr. Saliba explained.
Here's how it works; the pacemaker contains a tiny computer chip that records the energy of your heart, if the heart shows signs of slowing then 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.
Not everyone with cardiovascular disease needs a pacemaker. In fact, Dr. Saliba recommends the device for 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," he explained.
A progressive in this field, Dr. Saliba 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.
Doing more, feeling better, a healthy heart to keep up with the pace of life.