Pacemakers get an upgrade, and a St. Louis woman has resumed her active lifestyle because of it!

    By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science and Technology

    Anne Silvestri lives her life on the go! She’s actively engaged with her work, family, friends and fitness in the St. Louis area. Silvestri is an avid walker and enjoys her time walking with friends. Then one day, things changed when she suddenly became winded and felt like passing out when walking up her usual flight of stairs at work.

    “I waited awhile and got myself up, went up on the elevator and worked the rest of my day,” she said.

    At age 59, Silvestri had a history of high blood pressure and an at-home monitoring device but said that she thought her situation was blood pressure and medication related. So, the next day, she flew from St. Louis to Kansas City for a business meeting and flew home that day.

    “And as I was getting off the plane, again literally almost passed out and sat down and was like – there is something that’s not right with me!”

    Silvestri’s husband drove her to Mercy Hospital St. Louis, where it was “all-hands-on-deck” in the ER when she arrived, due to her low heart rate.

    “And they were very nervous about me, with as low as my heart rate was. And then walked in Dr. Wadhwani! He did inform me then, that we’re going to need to be putting a pacemaker in.”

    Dr. Lalit Wadhwani, electrophysiologist with Mercy Clinic Electrophysiology, joined Silvestri’s care team, running countless tests to make sure there were no other issues causing her problems. According to Mercy Hospital St. Louis, the electrical system of Silvestri’s heart had stopped working. With her heart beating so slowly, oxygen wasn’t circulating through Silvestri’s body efficiently, leading to her fatigue. That’s typically when surgeons implant a pacemaker. The pacemaker sends impulses to the heart when the natural “wiring” isn’t telling the heart to beat fast enough.

    Dr. Wadhwani offered Silvestri the very latest technology. It’s considered an upgraded pacemaker, a new pacing system.

    “It is not a new pacemaker per se, it’s more of a new pacemaker implant technique,” explained Wadhwani. “The best part about this pacemaker implant technique is that it mimics a normal physiologic electrical conduction of the heart. So, it makes the heart beat normally as it would if the electricity was passing normally through the heart.”

    Mercy Hospital St. Louis became the first in the state to offer the new, more natural pacing system. Mercy said doctors are now able to implant the “tried-and-true technology” in an entirely new, more natural way.

    “This new technology, what we’re doing is that we are implanting the lead in the septum deep enough so that we can engage the conduction tissue. It basically propagates electricity as if it was propagating naturally. And that leads to the synchronous contraction of both right and the left ventricle,” said Wadhwani.

    Wadhwani said the new type of pacing helps patients avoid complications that can be associated with traditional pacing methods. This new way is better for patients who need a pacemaker that’s working much of the time, or all of the time. And Silvestri was considered a perfect candidate.

    “She has been using the pacemaker 100% of the time. And similarly, anyone who requires more than 40% pacing in the lower chamber of the heart will definitely benefit from this technology” said Wadhwani. “It’s very exciting, the entire field is very excited about this new technology.”

    “I kind of feel like my old self again,” said Silvestri. “For me, the biggest takeaway is that I hope I’ve learned to be a better listener to my body and immediately address it. I have a lot more life that I want to live!”