Does the vice-president’s heart surgery show the future for Iowa patients? Dr. Brian Olshansky of the U of I med school says thousands of Iowans have the mechanical devices already. He’s heard people nickname the device an “emergency room in the chest” for its work in regulating an erratically beating heart. He says one thing pacemaker patients still stay away from is the security system in airports, which could upset its delicate electronics, but pacemaker patients carry a special I-D card. Olshansky says a patient can live a long and healthy life with a device like the vice-president’s heart implant.Dr. Olshansky says the devices are not just for terminal patients, however. He says the devices can be put in someone who is otherwise healthy.Dr. Olshansky says no longer do pacemaker patients have to stay away from the microwave oven, but there are devices that can disturb its delicate electronic circuitry. Cell phones, arc welders, high-power lines or working in a power plant might be troublesome. The device itself has Midwestern connections — the pacemaker was manufactured by Med-Tronic, a Minnesota company.
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