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Overlake Hopsital patient gets MRI-capable pacemaker

An Overlake Hospital Medical Center patient became the first in Western Washington to have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capable pacemaker implanted.

The pacemaker, developed by Medtronic, is the only of its kind that has been approved by the FDA to undergo MRIs.

Prior to its invention, MRIs were not recommended for patients with pacemakers for concern of serious harm that could be done to the pacemaker or the patient.

But, in Teresa Bliss' case, a heart condition matched with a recent stroke led Dr. Alan Heywood, a cardiologist at Overlake, to implant the new permanent pacemaker, allowing the the medical staff to monitor the effects of her stroke.

"I think it's great technology and I'm very grateful that it's here. Hopefully it will become more and more available for people that need it," Bliss said.

It has been estimated that 200,000 patients with conditions similar to Bliss forgo an MRI scan because of their pacemaker.

"Overlake is proud to provide safer access to MRI for our patients. We encourage our patients to talk to their doctor about which pacemaker system is right for them," Heywood said.

Like most pacemakers, it is covered by all insurance providers and Medicare.

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