SUDDEN blackouts have made Portadown man Terry Herron’s life “a nightmare” over the past few years but he hopes all that is set to change after a historic medical procedure yesterday (Thursday).
Terry (47), who lives at Westland Road, became the first patient in Northern Ireland to be implanted with a new cardiac monitoring device, in an attempt to discover what is causing his lapses of consciousness.
The BioMonitor®, which continuously monitors a patient’s heart rate and rhythm, was implanted in a half-hour procedure at Craigavon Area Hospital by Dr David McEneaney, consultant cardiologist.
The local father-of-six was in hospital for just one day and was given a local anaesthetic for the ground-breaking treatment.
The blackouts occur without warning and have resulted in Terry fracturing his skull in three places on one occasion and injuring his nose and face on another.
He said, “They last for a minute or two and I have taken them in the street and other public places. The most I have had is three in one week but there is no way of telling when they will happen. It could be three or four weeks before I have another one.”
The random nature and suddenness of the attacks have left Terry virtually house-bound and when he does go out he has to be accompanied by his wife Catherine or another family member.
He added, “It’s a nightmare. I can’t drive and I can’t even go fishing any more, which was my main hobby, in case I take a blackout on the river bank.”
Terry had no fears about being the first person to have the procedure done in Northern Ireland; he was, in fact, looking forward to it. “I can’t wait to get back to a normal life again,” he said.
The BioMonitor, which is made by a company in Germany, can detect if the heart is beating too fast, too slowly or irregularly. Dr McEneaney explained, “The device sends daily updates remotely to the doctor without the patient having to do anything. Doctors can monitor the patient’s heart over long periods as they go about their daily lives and then use this data to treat them more effectively.”
He added, “BioMonitor is a diagnostic breakthrough. We often have patients who, for unknown reasons, repeatedly faint or complain of dizziness. We need a snapshot of what happened in order to properly assess the situation, and this is only possible with continuous monitoring of the heart that reveals unpredictable arrhythmias and transmits data about them immediately.”
He added, “BioMonitor is a significant improvement on the previous external devices which could only detect a small percentage of these potentially serious conditions. BioMonitor gives doctors very precise and reliable information and supports us in every step from diagnosis via monitoring through to individualised therapy, offering high quality solutions that benefit both doctors and patients.”
Dr Gillian Rankin, southern trust director of acute services, said, “The trust’s cardiology team provides innovative care and treatment for patients and this implant is another example of their continued commitment to providing the latest and best care and treatment to our patients.”
Terry added, “I feel reassured that the doctors will be able to keep a close eye on how I am doing and I can get on with my life knowing that my heart is being monitored round the clock by the doctors for any sign of problems.”