Case Study: Stacey May
My sister, Stacey May, had a pacemaker implanted at age 7 (1988). Occasionally throughout the 2 years prior to her surgery, she suffered with fainting episodes. One day while at cheerleading practice, she had fainted and was taken to the ER. At that time the doctor at the hospital found no reason for her fainting spells and she was sent home that night with cough medicine due to complaints of a sore throat. Later that night, Stacey’s pediatrician called anxious to know any results the ER doctors may have given. Unsatisfied to hear that she was released before any tests were done and knowing that a healthy 7 year old child should not be fainting, he insisted she be taken back to the hospital and referred her to a cardiologist. She was then admitted for testing.
At that time a 24 hour halter monitor was ordered for her to wear to try to determine any underlying problems. During this time, Stacey had fainted 2 more times. Once while nurses inserted her IV and another when they removed it. The recording also showed that while she slept, her heart rate was dropping into the teens. She was transferred to Deborah Heart and Lung Center the next day and a temporary pacemaker was put in. An echocardiogram and EKG were then done showing her heart was functioning properly and was able to maintain her own rhythm the majority of the time. The problem was occasionally the nerve impulses from her brain to her heart were not able to connect. This miscommunication, so to speak, was causing her heart rate to drop and at times, stop. She was diagnosed with SSS or “Sick Sinus Syndrome”.
SSS is a general name for a group of disorders caused by a malfunctioning sinus node. The sinus node acts as a pacemaker inside the heart. Sinus rhythm, or natural heart rate, is controlled by electrical impulses from the sinus node. Without the right impulses, the heart cannot beat properly. Typically SSS is...