Appleby’s mayor is one of the first people in Europe to be fitted with a pioneering bluetooth heart monitor.
The micro-tech device downloads second-by-second heart readings to doctors remotely and was implanted in mayor Gareth Hayes last month.
Gareth, aged 60, has over the past five years been having his heartbeat monitored after suffering from occasional irregular heartbeats.
Medics assured him that was completely normal but it did cause anxiety.
Over the last two years he has gone on to have cases of his heart rate dropping into bradycardia, with is a pulse rate of 40 beats per minute or less.
This has caused light-headedness and fainting and an ambulance has twice been called to help Gareth in the past two years.
“The cardiology team didn’t think that it was life-threatening but it does need to be identified with a diagnosis.
“To do that they need to capture an episode on an ECG when it’s happening,” Gareth said.
“This new technology allows them to look at my heart over the next three years and monitor and analyse occurrences.”
With an award-winning career in clinical research which has taken him all over the world teaching others — Gareth was completely on board with having the new hi-tech device implanted.
The size of just a paper clip, it has been developed by tech firm Medtronic and has been designed for patients who need long-term monitoring because they suffer unexplained palpitations, fainting episodes or blackouts.
Doctors have described the device as “game-changing” and “pioneering”.
Although the device itself has been developed for around 10 years, only recently has the bluetooth element of it being introduced.
This means that in the past patients had to go to hospital to have the data downloaded every few weeks, but now it can be sent remotely without patients having to leave their homes.
Gareth has declined to download an app on to his phone which would enable him to see the data in real-time, and instead has a device beside his bed which automatically downloads the day’s information each night.
He also has a fob which he can hold to his chest when he feels an episode and it alerts doctors to the data.
Last month Gareth, following a clear COVID-19 test two days earlier, had the device implanted in an operation done under local anaesthetic by the cardiology team from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay at the Westmorland General Hospital, Kendal.
It is now placed under the skin on his chest.
Gareth said: “I’m someone who can’t sit still and I’m very active with the motto, ‘It’s not how you fall down, it’s how you get back up’, so I accepted something was going on with my heart but needed to know how to manage it.
“I’m delighted to be at the forefront of technology because research has been my life. It’s very James Bond — my son has nicknamed me ‘Robo-mayor’!”