TAMPA — Brian Cashman said he spent part of Wednesday doing his own research into pacemakers and the procedure Aaron Boone underwent to have one installed to address a low heart rate.
The Yankees’ general manager was optimistic about a quick and restriction-free return for his manager, but admitted he wasn’t a doctor. However, a doctor is backing him up in that projection.
“The full assumption is that he’ll be back to all his normal activities, literally with no restrictions,” Dr. Larry Chinitz, a cardiac electrophysiologist and the director of the Heart Rhythm Center at NYU Langone Health, said in a phone interview. “Technology of pacemakers has evolved dramatically in the last 50 years. They’re small, they’re effective, there’s longevity in the battery.
“There are really very minimal restrictions on patients’ lives. In fact, you may be better than ever. You may have been dealing with an abnormal heart rhythm for many years. I know he had previous cardiac surgery, so this might be something that has been evolving over the years.”
Boone had open-heart surgery in 2009, shortly before he retired as a player, to replace a bicuspid aortic valve due to a congenital defect in his heart.
Chinitz described Wednesday’s procedure as “pretty low-risk,” requiring just a small incision to install the pacemaker. The main recovery is healing the incision, he said.
“A pacemaker is a generator attached to wires that are threaded into the heart and stimulate the heart muscle and maintain adequate heart rates,” Chinitz said.
Boone had experienced “mild symptoms” of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath in recent weeks, leading him to get tests done in New York before coming to spring training. Doctors discovered a low heart rate, which could have led to issues had it gone undetected.
“The one thing you’re most afraid of is a patient will pass out,” Chinitz said. “If the heart rate gets slow enough, it can’t maintain adequate blood flow to the brain, loss of consciousness is the big deal.”