Does This 23-Year-Old Need a Pacemaker?!

Playing 23-Year-Old Woman Discovers Third Degree Heart Block

The Doctors meet Rana, who shares the scary situation she is facing. At only 23-year-olds, Rana was told she has third-degree heart block. Rana was at the gynecologist when the doctor noted that Rana’s heart rate was very slow. Rana was then rushed to the ER where she was told she was born with third-degree heart block. She spent the night but after receiving testing was sent home.

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Since then, Rana has spoken with doctors to get other opinions and has received conflicting advice. Some of them have told her she should get a pacemaker ASAP, while others think she should leave it alone since she is young with no symptoms. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains with third-degree heart block, the conduction of the heart’s electrical wiring can be blocked, which could have untoward symptoms. They called in the expert, cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn, to review Rana’s case.

Dr. Kahn shares that he is very concerned about Rana over the next 6-12 months. He says not only does she have a congenital complete heart block but also a heart rate in the high 20s, low 30s. In the hospital, Rana had hours of dizziness. There are unresolved questions Dr. Kahn believes need to be answered. If this is a slow heart rate by itself, there can be autoimmune issues. Dr. Kahn recommends advanced blood work as well as an MRI of Rana’s heart to look further into the question of what is going on. If Rana does get a pacemaker, it will make it more difficult to do an MRI, so it should be done beforehand.

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Dr. Kahn explains that currently, Rana’s top of her heart and bottom are not communicating. If the bottom gets any slower, she could black out. In the meantime, he says there is a phone app that Rana can use to run her own electrocardiogram to check her heart rate. There are newer types of pacemakers that are now wireless and do not cause a lump in the chest, and Dr. Kahn thinks this is likely a great idea for Rana. Dr. Kahn works not too far from where Rana lives and he has offered to see her soon, this week or next. The Doctors are glad Rana is going to be in good hands, and Dr. Travis commends her for continuing to seek answers in the face of conflicting opinions!

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