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B. The Facts About Cardiac Pacemakers

Narrator: This is Science Today. Although cardiac pacemakers have been around for two decades now, there's never been a complete evaluation between the two types available - namely, single and dual chamber pacemakers. Dr. Lee Goldman, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, led a study comparing the functions of both pacemakers and the overall outcome for patients.

Goldman: In all the patients who got pacemakers, the pacemaker resulted in a tremendous improvement in functional status and quality of life, compared with where they were before the pacemaker.

Narrator: It's been widely thought that dual chamber pacemakers, which mimic the heart closer, were superior. But Goldman found only about 20 percent of patients greatly improved with the dual chamber.

Goldman: The main finding in our study is that compared to other things going on, the choice of single versus dual chamber pacemakers is commonly not the dominant issue. The two dominant issues are do you need a pacemaker of any sort to protect you from having an ineffective heartbeat? And in that case, either kind of pacemaker will be a benefit.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.