New Defibrillator Works Without Wires Touching Heart

From: U.S. News & World Report

A new implantable defibrillator accurately detects abnormal heart rhythms and shocks the heart back into normal rhythm, yet has no wires touching the heart, new research shows.

The device, called a subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator (S-ICD), is placed under the patient's skin and has a wire under the skin along the left side of the breast bone.

"The device detects life-threatening arrhythmias from normal rhythms, and once it notices the life-threatening rhythm it will automatically shock the heart back to its normal rhythm," said lead researcher Dr. Martin Burke, director of the Heart Rhythm Center at the University of Chicago.

The advantage of the device is its durability -- it lasts longer because there is not as much flexibility in the wiring, Burke said. Wires in standard implantable defibrillators need to be flexible to pass through blood vessels to the heart.

"This makes the system enticing for younger patients who have risk of cardiac arrest who currently don't get standard systems because of [probable] failures of those systems over time," Burke said. "The heart beats 30 million times a year, and those beats put wear and tear on those wires."

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