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News and Featured Stories from St. Vincent's Medical Center
Published: 12/05/2011

Reveal Heart Monitor Device
Reverses “Epilepsy” Diagnosis

Heart monitor deviceWhen his heart stopped beating for 32 seconds, then miraculously restarted itself, Trumbull resident Colin Reeves, 82, might never have known that anything other than one of his recurring fainting-and-seizure ‘spells’ had happened. The soul of responsibility, Reeves had stopped driving and was following doctor’s orders on his medications. But here he was in the recovery room at St. Vincent’s after having a Reveal Heart Monitor implanted in his chest, being told his heart had stopped cold — but happily was beating again.

“I woke up not remembering a thing,” Reeves said. A man with a wry sense of humor, he added, “Of course, I never did remember a thing after one of those spells. My wife Joan was the one who really had to go through it. But discovering my
heart had stopped for that long was a shock.”

“Mr. Reeves’ primary care physician was vigilant and recognized his epilepsy medications weren’t working,” said Alon Ronen, MD, a cardiologist on staff at St. Vincent’s and co-medical director of the Women at Heart Program at the hospital’s Regina L. Cozza Center. “I suspected he suffered from an arrhythmia, not epilepsy, and had evaluated him on three external heart monitors. Nothing showed up. Then we went to the Reveal Internal Monitor and immediately had confirmation.” The Reveal is a state-of-the-art monitor manufactured by Medtronics that detects cardiac irregularities.
The company noted that detection of Reeve’s sinus arrest may well have led to the fastest diagnosis yet for the device.
Sinus arrest is named for the sinus node, a small area in the heart often called its ‘natural pacemaker.’ If the node fails, prolonged pauses in the normal cardiac rhythm can occur.

Known as cardiovascular syncope, this can cause a loss of consciousness (fainting) and, in some patients, seizure activity
similar to that seen in epilepsy. “Once we knew what the problem was, we were able to put a pacemaker in that would
keep Mr. Reeves’ heart beating normally,” Dr. Ronen said.Reports in European medical literature recently pegged at
25 percent the portion of epilepsy-diagnosed patients whosesymptoms actually have a cardiac cause, and are not due
to epilepsy. “And of that 25 percent, about half have an arrhythmia,” Dr. Ronen said. “It’s relatively rare. But with 
the Reveal device, more accurate diagnoses will be possible.”

For Reeves, who had been enduring his dangerous fainting and seizure episodes for three years prior to being treated by 
Dr. Ronen, life has improved immeasurably. He’s back to doing volunteer work at St. Vincent’s, can drive again, and
keeps flexing that funny bone, which never failed him even in the worst of times. “People used to ask me, ‘What’s wrong
with you?’ like the time I fainted on Father’s Day,” he recalled.
“I’d tell them, ‘I don’t know—but I know it’s not measles!’” “Now he does know,” Joan Reeves said. “Nothing’s wrong with him. And that’s because of Dr. Ronen and the monitor he put in Colin. I don’t know how we can ever say ‘thank you’ enough!

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