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Science
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 7 June
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 7 June 2005
A monitor showing heartbeats

Full programme transcript >>

Arrhythmias

You might only be aware of your heart beating when you are anxious - but if it's working properly, it beats away 24 hours a day, at a rate of around 60-80 beats a minute.

Dr Mark Porter reports on conditions in which the heart rate is very fast, very slow or irregular.

Mark is joined in the studio by Professor Peter Weissberg of Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, and medical director of the British Heart Foundation.

Professor Weissberg is a leading expert on arrhythmias and he'll be giving Mark the low-down on the latest research in the field.

Keeping pace

Trisha McNair meets arrhythmia sufferers whose lives have been saved by pacemakers.

She finds out that modern pacemakers have developed from the cumbersome devices that were visible under the skin to discreet objects the size of a fifty pence piece. 

Trisha also hears about a 'smart' pacemaker, which only begins working when it's needed.

Ablation

The most common form of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AF).

While the symptoms of this condition can be controlled by anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin, doctors can also try to cure it using a technique called ablation.

The source of the problem is identified using a CT scan of the heart, and then destroyed by creating a scar through which the abnormal electrical activity cannot pass.

Mark talks to two doctors with slightly different approaches to the technique, and to a patient whose years of suffering with an irregular heartbeat were ended by the procedure.

Saving lives on site

Mark also finds out about the British Heart Foundation's campaign to install defibrillators in public places such as stations, airports and shopping centres.

The hope is that if someone experiences cardiac arrest, they can receive life-saving treatment right away, rather than waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Mark hears from a Caerphilly man who was declared clinically dead after collapsing at his local leisure centre, but survived when trained staff at the centre were able to revive him using a mobile defibrillator.
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