Aggressive heart pacing may work best in some spinal cord patients

movements, can trigger activity of the vagus nerve, which mediates the parasympathetic system's influence on the heart.

One patient's heart stopped beating and he had a seizure when blood was drawn, Dr. Robinson noted. "We put a pacemaker in and he has been fine ever since," he says. "These patients have lost their sympathetic response so the vagal tone is always predominating. In patients showing ongoing symptoms, we found it's much more important to go ahead and put that transvenous pacemaker in and keep them stable."

While the researchers suggest rapid preventive action in patients with recurring episodes of bradycardia, strict treatment guidelines for these patients can't yet be developed because of the limited number of patients in their study, they say.

They already have begun a larger study with doctors at the 60-bed spinal cord injury unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, also in Augusta.


Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia

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