Wireless shock therapy for the heart - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Wireless shock therapy for the heart

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(01/29/13) - Preventing heart attacks with the help of wireless technology! A wireless implant is delivering shock therapy to hearts going into cardiac arrest, and saving lives.

This is a good day for Merle Honey. "I don't have any pain."

Today he's being released from the hospital. Merle is one of the first people in the country to have a new defibrillator implanted in his chest.

"I've had a lot of problems with this old ticker," he says.

Merle suffers from a dangerously fast heartbeat. "My heart takes off on a run. It races away."

He had a traditional defibrillator, or ICD, implanted a few years ago. "When you get a shock, it comes out of nowhere, and there's a big yell."

That defibrillator was put in the left side of his chest. A wire was snaked into one of the veins, then under his collar bone and into his heart. The wire caused a life-threatening infection and had to be removed.  
"This new defibrillator is put underneath the skin, lower down in the chest and has a wire that goes just outside the chest wall and up the sternum," says Dr. Jordan Prutkin.

That one wire shift, Prutkin says, wipes out or reduces the chance of complications like infection or puncturing the lung or the heart. "There's nothing that's going into any of the blood vessels, and nothing that's going into the heart itself."

The new SICD keeps track of the heart. A normal heart beats 50 to 90 times a minute. If Merle's heart beats between 180 and 220, the device tries to determine if the situation is life-threatening. If so, it will shock him.  

"He's gonna feel it. It's gonna feel like getting kicked in the chest," Prutkin says.

This new SICD is not for everyone. Unlike the traditional ICD's, the new devices have no pacing capabilities. So, if the heart starts beating too slowly, the SICD cannot bring it back up to speed.

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