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New heart defibrillator helps Jacksonville man

Maurice Ricks
Maurice Ricks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Heart specialists at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville are using a new heart defibrillator for patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

Maurice Ricks said he's battled heart problems for nearly 10 years and said this innovation is a lifesaver.

At just 43 years old, Ricks needed a heart defibrillator. In 2005, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

"Went to the emergency room and they are like, 'You have congestive heart failure,'" Ricks said. "I was blown away. I didn't expect it."

He was a candidate for the new heart defibrillator, which goes under his arm as opposed to on his chest. It provides the same protection as the traditional implantable defibrillator, but without insulated wires being placed into the heart.

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"Patients with this defibrillator will not have to worry about breaking their wires or having the wires go bad as time goes by," said Dr. Venkata Sagi, a cardiac electrophysiologist.

It's for patients with dangerous, very fast heart beats, whereas a pacemaker is for someone with a slow heartbeat.

"The disadvantages with the traditional defibrillator is that it's right in the shoulder, some decrease in the range of motion in the shoulder and restrictions for six weeks after the procedure," Sagi said. "(Patients) have to be very careful with the arm."

Ricks said because of the quicker recovery time, it's helped him maintain an active lifestyle.

"I do a lot of yoga, bike riding, eat right," he said. "I try to stay active."

With the new defibrillator, patients can go home after the procedure instead of staying overnight.


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