An implanted heart pacemaker is helping keep 74-year-old Barbara Hanson steady on her feet.

I can keep up and I'm not worrying about whether or not I'm going to fall down, Hanson said. And maybe my kids won't call me 'weeble wobble grandma' anymore.

Her pacemaker could make a difference to those grandkids down the road.

Millions of pacemaker patients are banned from having lifesaving MRIs because the strong magnet can cause the metal inside to overheat or have a deadly malfunction. Now, more advanced pacemakers are making MRIs possible.

It is a significant breakthrough, said Methodist Mansfield cardiologist Dr. Alan Taylor.

Taylor said it's important because people like Barbara, who need pacemakers, are at higher risk of other vascular diseases.

And with vascular disease, stroke is an issue, he said. And with an old pacemaker that we could not use our MRIs, we were limited on what we could do diagnostically. Now that we have this pacemaker, we can use the MRI, which is state of the art for strokes.

Barbara Hanson was the first at the hospital to receive the MRI-safe pacemaker. She said it's not only making her feel better now, it makes her feel more confident about the future.

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