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From the Heart
February 14, 2018

Sixty Beats per Minute

Author Affiliations
  • 1Women’s Medicine Collaborative, Lifespan Health System, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 2Department of Surgery, Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 3Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
JAMA Cardiol. Published online February 14, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2017.5355

As is so common, this story unfolds late on a Friday afternoon—the worst time to have a medical problem. The cardiology fellow on call reassured me that my father’s pacemaker was not prolonging his life and that it wasn’t necessary to turn it off. He explained that the acidosis that occurs will make the myocardium nonresponsive to the signals from the pacemaker. This was an explanation that we would hear many times from many people. To me, a gynecologist with a medical school knowledge of cardiac electrophysiology, this explanation certainly made sense. But the fellow still gave me a phone number for the pacemaker company, and I called.

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