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Breakthrough heart device could save thousands

13th May 2010

A new device could help save the lives of thousands of people in Britain at risk of dying from sudden heart failure.

heart surgery

Patients suffering from arrythmia could now be given the Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator, or S-ICD, after it was found to be a major success in clinical trials.

Just an inch and a half in diameter, the £12,000 defibrillator is implanted under the skin and delivers a shock if the rhythm of the heart is disturbed to get it back to the regular beat.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Grace from Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, helped develop and test S-ICD and said the device was a major advance that could completely change the use of implantable defibrillators.

He said: “At present the potential complications are a barrier. Some patients turn them down, and some of them do die as a result of rhythm disturbances that could have been detected and treated with an internal device.”

The new battery-operated S-ICD system has just one wire going across the chest under the skin, connected to the device implanted beneath the skin on the side which contains the electronic components to deliver the shock.

As well as giving a bigger shock than conventional devices it also reduces the risk of complications from infection from the leads which connect them to the heart.

The work by the team is reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Figures show that up to 70,000 people every year die in the UK from sudden cardiac death caused by arrhythmia.

 

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