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New Implanted Defibrillator May Be Simpler, Safer
Date:5/12/2010

Device does away with wires that can cause trouble, experts say

WEDNESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new, wireless defibrillator that is easier to implant and maintain could make life better for people who rely on them to prevent sudden cardiac death, researchers report.

A defibrillator delivers an electric shock to restart a heart that has stopped beating. About 100,000 of them are implanted in Americans each year. Current models require careful surgery to run wires from the device through a vein into the heart -- a procedure that can damage the heart, a lung or a blood vessel, even when done by the most skilled practitioner.

The new device, developed by Cameron Health, a small California company, does away with those wires and has worked as well as the more complicated existing implanted defibrillators in several studies, according to a report to be released Wednesday at the Heart Rhythm Society annual meeting in Denver.

Another report on two successful trials conducted in 61 patients is also being released early in the May 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"It's an exciting new technology," said Dr. Richard Page, chair of medicine at the University of Wisconsin and president of the Heart Rhythm Society. "What we see is a truly innovative approach to the problem of sudden cardiac arrest and the problems associated with current technology."

Still, it's too early to give a full assessment, said Page, who noted that this is the first report on the use of the device.

"It is a relatively small study, and there is much to learn about the effectiveness and reliability of this system over time," he said.

The new defibrillator "is a small device with enough power to restart the heart while away from it and also sense the heart's electrical activity while away from it," said Dr. Gust H. Bardy, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washingt
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