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Pacemaker to stop faints

9th January 2008

Surgeons at a UK hospital have become the first in the world to implant a new generation of pacemaker to stop people regularly fainting.

The operation was carried out at St Mary’s Hospital in London on a 65-year-old man.

He was fitted with the Biotronik Cylos 990 pacemaker under local anaesthetic, which detects subtle, early changes in the body ahead of a fainting episode and then works to prevent it.

About 3% of hospital admissions are for fainting and a third of people experience fainting at some point. However, some patients have frequent occurrences that are caused by neurological and cardiovascular disease and can seriously affect their lives.

In some patients the heart rate drops before the fainting episode but the pacemakers can detect the fall in heart rate and stimulate the heart to beat faster.

Consultant cardiologist Professor Richard Sutton from St Mary’s said: “This new device is an exciting development which should be very helpful to this patient. It also has other new features such as the ability to monitor the device, and how it is interacting with the patient, at home.

“This way of supporting pacemaker patients in their everyday lives is the future of cardiac device care.?

However, it may be up to a year before clinicians can be sure it has been fully successful in preventing future fainting episodes.

British Heart Foundation said regular fainting could be debilitating and this first operation will be important for knowing whether the device has a wider use for other patients.

 

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