London: In a major breakthrough that could save thousands of people dying from sudden heart failures, scientists have developed a new device that can help control life-threatening rhythm disturbances of the heart.
The 12,000-pound Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator, or S-ICD, which is implanted under the skin, delivers a shock if the rhythm of the heart is disturbed and get it back to the regular beat.
The battery-operated defibrillator, according to its developers, has been a major success in clinical trials among people who suffered from life-threatening disturbances to
their heartbeat -- known as arrythmia, which claims 70,000 lives every year alone in Britain.
Dr Andrew Grace, consultant cardiologist at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, who helped develop and test S-ICD, said it was a major advance.
"This could completely change the use of implantable defibrillators," Grace was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
"At present the potential complications are a barrier. Some patients turn them down, and some of them do die as a result of rhythm disturbances that could have been detected
and treated with an internal device."
The researchers said that the new system delivers a bigger kick-start to the heart than conventional devices in response to life-threatening rhythm disturbances.
And it also offers new hope to sufferers as previous devices had the risk of complications from infection from the leads which connect them to the heart, they said.
The new S-ICD system has just one wire going across the chest under the skin, connected to the device implanted beneath the skin on the side which contains the electronic
components to deliver the shock.
The added distance from the heart means a more powerful shock can be delivered than from conventional devices – about 2.5 times stronger.
It also means the S-ICD is less likely to pick up electrical noise from the heart which can trigger unnecessary shocks, known as false positives, which can be `traumatising`
for patients, the researches added.