Magazine article USA TODAY

Implantable Devices Improve Survival Rate

Magazine article USA TODAY

Implantable Devices Improve Survival Rate

Article excerpt

Thanks to television, most Americans are familiar with the dramatic hospital emergency room resuscitation scene: the unconscious patent lying on the table, the paddles quickly affixed to the chest, and boom!, the electrical shock that revives a failed heartbeat. Now imagine that same scenario happening - on a slightly smaller scale - in side a person's body, correcting heart rhythm problems at the moment they occur and preventing a tremendous number of sudden cardiac deaths. This scenario is increasingly familiar since the advent of a relatively new device, the implantable defibrillator, notes Dwight Reynolds, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

The risk of sudden cardiac death is higher with coronary heart disease patients and those who have arrhythmia, as the result of heart disease or heart rhythm abnormalities. The implantable defibrillators are effective in preventing sudden cardiac death in 95% of these patients, Reynolds maintains.

The defibrillator itself is about the size of a miniature tape recorder. The computerized device is inserted under the skin of the patient's upper left chest wall through an incision. …

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