Your Healthy Community: Learn to pace yourself

By Katie Sciba
Feb. 14, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 13, 2014 at 8:14 p.m.

I settled into the chair at her kitchen table ready to visit and ready as always with my questions for a lively lady.

"Well, I got a call from my cardiologist the other day. Apparently, I have two months left on my battery, and that's it," she said, with a smile.

"It seems rather ominous, right?" I responded.

"Well, yes. It is exactly ominous," my patient replied.

I always enjoy visiting with her because she is honest and kind.

"So, what happens now? How are you feeling about this," I asked. "I'm not sure actually," she said.

She went on to tell me how she ended up with a pacemaker. She said she was not in pain, but she went in for medical care because she felt awful all over. She said it was a horrible feeling that is hard to explain.

She had other symptoms, like being short of breath, not being able to sleep and loss of appetite, but she knew something was wrong.

"And just like that, I came home with a pacemaker," she said. And now her battery is about to expire. We stared at each other. "I've had a great life, and I'm contented most days."

Pacemakers are small battery-operated devices that sense when your heart is beating too slowly or irregularly. The pacemaker sends a signal to your heart to make it beat at a correct pace.

Pacemakers usually weigh about 1 ounce and have a generator and leads. The generator is where the battery is and where the information is for controlling your heartbeat. The leads are what connect the generator to the heart and help the signal reach the heart to set its pace.

There are different kinds of pacemakers, but insertion of one is done by surgery that takes about an hour. Pacemaker batteries can last from six to 15 years and then a doctor will replace it.

Our hearts are muscles, and it is important that they are strong. Heart failure can occur when your heart is too weak to pump blood out of the heart or when the heart is too weak to fill up with blood properly.

The two numbers of your blood pressure measure these two functions of your heart. When your heart can't pump correctly, congestive heart failure occurs and you have blood back up and fluid build-up.

It is very important for our hearts to be strong enough to pump. Pacing yourself isn't about holding back in life. It's about making healthy choices and preventative wellness. Because of medical advances, pacemakers are available.

Heart failure can be managed by changing lifestyle, taking medications and treating what caused the heart failure.

Take care of your heart, and pace your lifestyle to have strength of heart.

SOURCES: Articles from National Center for Biotechnology Information

Katie Sciba is a writer, a licensed social worker, a pastor's wife and a mother from Victoria. She works for AARN Health Services and blogs online at Always Simply Begin.



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