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Johns Hopkins Health - Device of a Lifetime

Fall 2008
Issue No. 2

Device of a Lifetime

Date: September 24, 2008

Woman in yoga pose

A pacemaker and minimally invasive surgery healed Donna Hansen’s heartache

I never thought I’d see age 50.

I had my first heart attack when I was 21 and another at 31 that required triple bypass surgery. There was little doubt that my heart problems were the result of having type 1 diabetes since I was 8 years old.

For a few years I was doing great, but then I developed congestive heart failure and my health took a turn for the worse. When I got sick, I got very sick. Nine times out of 10, I would need to be hospitalized.

It was no way to live.

I came to Johns Hopkins, where cardiologist Dan Judge, M.D., and cardiac surgeon David Yuh, M.D., were determined to improve my quality of life. In 2005, Dr. Yuh performed the procedure that changed everything.

For me, a biventricular pacemaker was essential to controlling and improving my heart health. But implanting the device was complicated because my heart anatomy made it difficult to connect the leads accurately.

Fortunately Dr. Yuh was able to use minimally invasive surgery. I couldn’t believe how quickly I recovered. I feel like my life has suddenly been given back to me.

Today, I’m doing things I never thought I’d do again. I work out at a gym. I do weight training and yoga, and I walk one to two miles five days a week.
And, last year, I turned 50.

Mind | Today, the chances that Donna Hansen will experience heart-disease-related depression have decreased dramatically.

Heart | Every day that she exercises helps make her heart stronger and allows her to become even more active.

Joints | Loss of bone density is a particular concern for women older than age 40. The weight training and other exercises she can do now help maintain her bone density.

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