When medication is not enough  pg. 2

Ten years after first heart attack in 1983, Page began experiencing abnormal heart rhythms that increased his risk of sudden cardiac death. Over the next few years, five defibrillators were implanted under the skin of his chest to shock his heart rhythm back to normal.

“You never did know when it was going to hit you,” says Page, a retired truck driver. “They warned me that the shock could throw me to my knees. It never knocked me down, but it has rattled my cage pretty many times. It felt like somebody hitting me in the shoulder blade with a sledge hammer.”

Page, who also has other health concerns including congestive heart failure, poor circulation in his extremities and damage from his heart attack, says he was afraid to leave the house for fear his defibrillator would “go off.”

After the most recent device, implanted in late 2006, gave him a series of shocks to rescue him from abnormal heart rhythms, his doctors at Vanderbilt decided to try ablation therapy. Page said he has not had any trouble since.

There is still a chance that arrhythmias will recur. But for patients like Page and Boyce, the procedure has meant a new lease on life.

“Before having this done I was very cautious about most of my activity for fear I would trigger the episodes,” Boyce says. “Now I feel much more comfortable trying things.”

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