A life saving device, the size of a deck of cards, helps patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest and is now in use by the Genesis Healthcare System.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart abruptly stops pumping blood because of abnormal rhythm. The abnormal rhythm causes the heart to quiver or twitch, but not beat.
This new device, the Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator of S-ICD is implanted just below the skin on the left side of the chest. Wires attached to the device also run under the skin, but don't touch the heart.
It's unlike an older device where the wires would go directly into the blood vessel and into the heart.
"When you put a wire in the heart it becomes part of your body," explained Electrophysiologist Doctor Magdy Migeed. "To take it out should there be an infection or issues with the wires you'd have to use lasers and pull it out. That can be a problem especially in the young people."
The device is programmed to give the heart a jolt when it sense it's out of rhythm. Dr. Migeed said sometimes the patients don't even know they've been shocked. Others feel a slight kick.
"it will tell the device if the heart rate goes above a certain number to give a shock or two shocks," said Dr. Migeed. "It will basically do what we want the device to do based on the sensing of the information that's extracting from the heartbeats."
The device is monitored by doctors who can also reprogram the machine and determine if it's functioning correctly all through the use of computers. The procedure to insert the device is done under local anaesthesia and the patient can go home to following day.