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C. Evaluating Cardiac Pacemakers

Narrator: This is Science Today. Cardiac pacemakers have been used for more than two decades to treat people with slow heart rates. Lee Goldman, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says the basic concept is that a pacemaker is a back-up battery.

Goldman: We put it in people who's batteries have failed and the pacemaker provides a heartbeat that otherwise wouldn't be there.

Narrator: There are two types of pacemakers - single and dual chamber. But a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of life associated with the two different types had never been performed until Goldman led a study which found only modest differences.

Goldman: The dual chamber pacemaker patients could do a little bit more in terms of their heart function, but on an average that was overwhelmed by the general effects of aging in a group of patients who's average age at the start of the study was already in the mid-seventies.

Narrator: Regardless of which pacemaker a patient had, Goldman found functional status and quality of life improved tremendously. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.