Entertainer Debbie Allen: MRI and a PaceMaker

| May 20, 2013 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

Stage, television and film performer Debbie Allen has displayed her many talents as a director, choreographer, dancer and actor.  She says her greatest passion is dance.  After a decades long, intensive schedule of performing, muscle strains and pains have sidelined her seriously enough to require medical attention.  Physicians have prescribed examinations using a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine.  Those MRI exams have helped doctors treat her strains while extending her dancing career and her passion.

While use of an MRI became so important to her life she experienced a life changing revelation that was coupled with her family history of heart disease. She learned that heart disease patients, like those in her family, often have a pacemaker implanted in their chest, itself a life saving procedure.   She also learned pacemaker patients, until recently, have been restricted from getting an MRi.


With 600,000 pacemakers being implanted each year and with the increasing use of MRI’s, this kind of technical conflict has greatly affected people’s lives.  An estimated 200,000 patients in the U.S. annually are denied access to an MRI scan because they have a pacemaker. It has been estimated that there is a 50‐75% probability that cardiac device patients will need an MRI over the lifetime of their devices.

People with a slow or irregular heartbeat (fewer than 60 beats per minute) may have a condition called bradycardia, which can cause a person to feel dizzy, short of breath or faint. A common treatment for this disorder is a pacemaker, an implantable device that uses electrical signals to help restore the heart’s rhythm and ensure that enough oxygen-rich blood is being circulated throughout the body.

Now recent scientific breakthroughs are changing those limitations. Debbie Allen is helping get the word out about some amazing technological changes that will allow future pacemaker wearers to receive an MRI. This issue is timely as the FDA recently approved a new pacemaker now available for use in an MRI environment.

As a major technological breakthrough, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first MRI safe pacemaker in 2011.  Minneapolis-based Medtronic has been shipping the devices since then.  This will now permit pacemaker patients access to MRI which allows detection and treatment of serious medical conditions such as stroke, cancer and many other conditions.

Debbie Allen is part of the information campaign.  She says people invest more time in deciding what car to buy than they do on a device that may help improve the quality of their life. “I want everyone to know there are options. That’s why I chose to become an advocate for the Join the Pace Makers Campaign, ” she says.  You can get more information about Debbie’s campaign at www.JointhePaceMakers.com.





Category: Senior Health