Jefferson Hospital Can Implant Next Generation Wireless Defibrillator

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the first hospital in Pennsylvania, and one of the first in the U.S., to use the latest implantable cardiac device technology to treat patients who suffer from irregular heart beats and heart failure. The recently FDA approved implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) allows physicians more sophisticated remote monitoring over the internet, cutting out needless trips to the hospital for those patients who suffer from arrhythmias, heart failure and those at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

"I have patients that come a long way to see me," said Arnold Greenspon, M.D., director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab at the Jefferson Heart Institute. "If a patient thinks there is something wrong with their device it may take some time until we can arrange for the patient to come in for an appointment. In addition remote monitoring may let us detect a change in patient condition before the patient is even aware of it. This new device will allow me to review transmitted data and decide on a course of action prior to the patient physically coming in for a visit. Hopefully, we can rule out the patient coming in at all."

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Implantable cardiac devices such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices are designed to treat a variety of problems that stem from a faulty electrical system in the heart. These problems include dizziness, fainting, extreme tiredness and shortness of breath. Other disorders include heart failure and sudden cardiac arrest.

The devices are small, battery-powered computers about the size of a pocket watch. They are implanted under the skin and connected to the heart via leads. These tiny wires are inserted into the chambers of the heart through blood vessels for two purposes: to carry information from the heart to the device, and to carry electrical impulses from the device to the heart. The third part of the implantable device system is a programmer, an external computer located in the doctor's office or clinic that is used to program the heart device, as well as retrieve information from the device about the patient's condition and device status that will assist the doctor in treating the disorder.

Check-ups on normal defibrillators are required every three to six months to ensure the device is functioning properly. But this new ICD continuously tests the wire leads that connect it to the heart and alerts medical staff to any changes or potential problems over the internet.

Dr. Greenspon does not receive any compensation from Medtronic, the device manufacturer.

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