Prairie Lea special education teacher Mary Zion remembers her stroke like it was yesterday – even though it took months to learn what caused it. But thanks to the world’s smallest heart monitor – it’s about the size of a matchstick – and the Ascension Seton Heart Institute, she did find out.
Zion was volunteering at a high school football game and experienced the classic symptoms of a stroke: fatigue, muscle weakness on one side of her body and slurred speech. A fellow volunteer called 911 and first responders called STAR Flight to take her to University Medical Center Brackenridge.
Doctors later told Mary she suffered from a “cryptogenic” stroke, a type of stroke where there is no known cause.
As part of Ascension Seton’s ongoing commitment to cardiac and stroke care, interventional neurologist Dr. Jefferson Miley and cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Mauricio Hong implanted the world’s smallest, insertable cardiac monitor into Zion’s chest to detect irregular heartbeats, also known as atrial fibrillation.
People such as Mary who suffer from cryptogenic strokes frequently suffer from an undiagnosed irregular heartbeat, a common cardiac condition. Irregular heartbeats put someone like Mary at risk for a recurrent stroke.
“Irregular heartbeats may occasionally have no symptoms when these heart rhythm disturbances sometimes occur,” said Hong, who cares for patients at the Ascension Seton Heart Institute. “Oftentimes, it can’t be detected by monitors commonly used in hospitals – but it can be detected by this new, implanted device.”
That is why Hong surgically implanted the Reveal LINQTM Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) after Zion suffered her stroke. It automatically and continuously detects and records abnormal heart rhythms for up to three years. This allows physicians to more easily detect irregular heartbeats and change patients’ medical therapy according to guidelines to help reduce their risk of a second stroke.
After two months of monitoring, doctors determined Zion suffers from irregular heartbeats and she is now on medication to reduce her chances of suffering another stroke.