New, Improved way to help sick hearts heal

New implantable cardiac defibrillator

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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A year ago, while jamming with his son's band, Eric Robinson went into cardiac arrest.

"I have two birthdays now: the day I was born, and the day I was reborn," Robinson said.

CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Robinson alive. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.

Unlike traditional ICDs, the new system uses a single lead with sensors to detect changes in the top chamber of the heart. Antony Chu, MD, FACC, Director of Complex Ablation and Arrhythmia Services Section in the Division of Cardiology at the Rhode Island and Miriam Hospital, says this technology does the job of two leads, and allows physicians to monitor for atrial conditions, such as A-fib.

"The biggest benefit is that the defibrillator gets much more electrical information about what's happening to the heart so the decision making process that it undergoes is much more accurate," Chu explained.

That helps minimize the chance of someone getting shocked for the wrong reason. Plus the one lead reduces the patient's exposure to radiation and decreases procedure time.

Follow up visits are important, but the ICD also allows for home monitoring. Wherever there is cellular coverage, Robinson's ICD can be monitored by a special device anywhere in the world to monitor the device status.

Additional Information:

Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD) are implanted into a patient to monitor the heart. According to the FDA, the ICD is surgically implanted just beneath the skin near the collarbone. It shocks the heart into normal rhythm when the device senses dangerous abnormal heart rhythms. The CDC reports:

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year; that's one in every four deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
  • More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men (Source:

CAUSES:  The ICD is used for patients who have heart failure and are at risk of sudden cardiac death. The candidates typically have:

  • abnormally fast heart arrhythmias
  • exhibit related heart failure
  • take congestive heart failure medicines
  • have high blood pressure, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism (Source: American Heart Association)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: The new implantable cardiac defibrillator uses a single lead filled with sensors. It detects changes in the top chambers of the heart. When there are changes, the ICD shocks the heart back to normal. This helps doctors get more information about what's happening to the heart so their decisions can be more accurate. The new device reduces the patients' exposure to radiation and post op infections. Until now the only option was implanting multiple leads, which can lead to more complications. (Source

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