The following content is created in consultation with Sentara. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington’s editorial staff. To learn more about Sentara, visit sentara.com.
Lenore Beetar isn’t like most 92 year olds.
Her life has always been about movement, grace and energy, qualities vital to a dancer. For four years from 1944 to 1948, Beetar was a Radio City Rockette.
But, over the summer, her daughter, Lenore Reeves, noticed her once lively mother was suddenly acting differently, “I just knew something was wrong because she wasn’t being herself. I kept saying to her, ‘You’re so out of breathe. You don’t have any energy. There’s something wrong here.’”
That’s when she took her mother to see a doctor, who put her on a heart monitor. The monitor showed Beetar’s heartbeat was dropping, explaining some of her recent symptoms. Beetar was referred to Electrophysiologist, Dr. Aysha Arshad.
Electrophysiology is a subspecialty within cardiology where doctors train in rhythm disorders and how to fix them. Often these disorders are corrected with an implant device, most commonly known as a pacemaker.
“Pacemaker is a device that can help patients with a low heart rate. It can also help in patients with alternating slow and fast heartrates where medicines may be needed, which can aggravate the slow heart rhythm. So, a pacemaker would stabilize a heart rhythm in that circumstance,” explains Dr. Arshad.
Dr. Arshad explained to the family the benefits of a pacemaker. The workings of the device weren’t foreign to them since a close relative had one, but Reeves’ worried her mother’s memory issues could cause problems with recovery. That’s when they started exploring the Micra Pacemaker, the world’s smallest pacemaker, as an option.
It’s something many of Dr. Arshad’s patients are pursuing, “It’s a miniaturized device containing revolutionary new technology. It’s delivered directly into the heart and cosmetically appealing, since there’s no scar. The device itself is as small as a vitamin pill.”
For Lenore Beetar and her family, the recovery time and limited restrictions were key. Beetar spent one night in the hospital before being released. Her daughter says the results were instantly noticeable, “She had energy she hadn’t had in three months, it was unbelievable! It made an immediate difference.”
As for the soon-to-be 93 year old, she barely knows the device is there, “I feel fine. I don’t even think about it! If you asked me about it, I’d say, ‘Oh, I think I have it,’” she shares chuckling.
Reeves recommends the device to everyone, sharing her mother has had little discomfort; Beetar agrees, “I didn’t feel anything!”
“There was no pain, no tenderness. They went in through the groin, it was a couple of stitches and some light bruising. It was very simple from a patient standpoint,” adds Reeves.
It’s been just three months, but already Beetar is back to her vivacious self. And, on a recent shopping trip she was able to keep searching for deals, just like the old days.
“The procedure was a no-brainer for us,” says Reeves, “It gave my mom her quality of life back.”
Dr. Arshad reminds women their heart disease and heart attack symptoms may be different than men’s. While men are known to have crushing chest pains, women may have jaw or neck pain. They may be sweaty, or like Beetar, have a difference in exercise capacity.
If you’re experiencing chest pains, seek immediate medical attention. To find an Electrophysiologist or Cardiologist who’s right for you, contact 1-800-SENTARA or find a provider at www.sentara.com.