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An excellent guide for pacemaker patients and their families: packed with detail, but still understandable. (The authors, pertinently, are a medical writer, a pacemaker engineer, and a surgeon.) We're immediately assured that the life expectancy of persons with pacers--from infancy (!) through old age--is ""the same as that of healthy people in their respective age groups."" (Only general medical status, the pacemaker apart, affects life expectancy.) Immediately after implantation, patients will feel relief from the simptoms of their heart disorder: dizziness, light-headedness, shortness of breath, ankle-swelling, and blackouts. Though all pacemakers act to regulate the rhythm of the heartbeat, there are different kinds and different actions, we learn, for various disorders. The mechanisms involved aren't simple--an understanding of basic heart physiology is necessary to understand pacers--but the explanations are clear and to-the-point. And nothing is omitted: why pacing is necessary; exactly how it's done; what the (minor) operation to implant it entails. Also: how a patient can check the pacer's function; how sex life is affected (it will probably improve); costs, and how to cover them; recalls of defective pacemakers (and possible claims against the manufacturer); pacing in the past and future. The outlook isn't critical or patient-based--but since little controversy exists over pacers (as against the need for other surgical procedures), a thorough briefing like this is a big help per se.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1982
Publisher: Michael Kesend