Canton Repository

June 19, 2003

Voinovich getting a pacemaker

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Sen. George Voinovich will have a pacemaker implanted Friday to speed up an abnormally slow heart rate.

During the past several years, the 66-year-old Ohio Republican has experienced a slowing of his heart rate, a condition known as progressive sinus bradycardia, according to his staff.

Voinovich, whose home is in Columbus, does not suffer from heart disease and enjoys good overall health, his spokeswoman Marcie Ridgway said.

In a written statement, the physician who will perform the procedure at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., said Voinovich’s condition is common.

“The senator has a healthy heart with normal function,” Dr. Helen Barold said. “Although he has felt well, the pacemaker will ensure that he maintains a normal heart rate and remains symptom-free.”

Voinovich’s condition is the most frequent reason for implanting a pacemaker in this country, said Dr. Augustus Grant, the incoming president of the American Heart Association.

Grant, a cardiologist who specializes in arrhythmias such as the one affecting the senator, lacks direct knowledge of Voinovich’s condition. But he said progressive sinus bradycardia usually “occurs as an isolated defect without being related to any specific form of underlying heart disease. ... Most people who have it have no other form of underlying heart disease,” he said.

Grant said patients with the condition are encouraged to resume all activities they previously engaged in after the surgery.

Voinovich will be under observation at the hospital Friday night and plans to spend the weekend at his Washington apartment. He expects to return to a full schedule Monday.