New defibrillator at Baptist Jacksonville helps patients maintain active lives
November 19, 2014 | Jacksonville, FL
A new implantable defibrillator that does not require connecting wires into the heart is providing hope to a Jacksonville man who has battled heart problems for almost 10 years.
Baptist Heart Specialists at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville are using a new heart defibrillator for patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
An implantable defibrillator is a small battery-powered device that constantly monitors a person’s heart rhythm and can deliver a therapeutic dose of electricity to restore the rhythm when it senses the heart is beating dangerously fast (tachycardia) or chaotically (sudden cardiac arrest).
The Boston Scientific S-ICD® System, the world’s first commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator, provides the same protection as the traditional implantable defibrillator but without insulated wires being placed into the heart. Other implantable defibrillators on the market require a physician to insert one or more electrical conductor wires, called “leads,” into a vein in the upper chest and guide them into the patient’s heart.
“Nothing is attached to the patient’s heart. Everything is under the skin,” said cardiac electrophysiologist Venkata Sagi, MD, of Baptist Heart Specialists. “This new system allows patients to do what they want and not worry about fracturing the leads and wires, and you don’t have to worry about infection.”
The S-ICD system includes two components. A generator is placed at the side of the chest and powers the system, monitors heart activity and delivers a shock if needed. The electrode, which allows the device to detect dangerous heart rhythms and serves as a pathway for shock delivery, is implanted next to the breastbone. This leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched.
Scott Lee, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist with Baptist Heart Specialists and director of electrophysiology, and cardiac electrophysiologist Chris Ruisi, MD, also implant the new defibrillator.
“It allows us to protect patients at risk for sudden cardiac death who may not be candidates for the standard defibrillator,” Dr. Lee said. “This is also another example of our commitment to offer comprehensive services to our patients and the community.”
Dr. Sagi said the new defibrillator is for patients with dangerous, very fast heart beats whereas a pacemaker is for someone with a slow heartbeat.
Maurice Ricks, 43, who lives in the Avondale area, was glad he did not need new wires placed in his heart in September when it was time for his old defibrillator to be replaced because of the battery and one of the wires not working properly. With the new defibrillator, Ricks said he only had a few small incisions and recovered quickly.
“I don’t have a big lump on my chest. This one is under my arm,” Ricks said. “You can’t tell it is even there. If my heart stops or goes out of rhythm and is not pumping correctly, it will shock me.”
Ricks had kidney damage when he was born and it led to problems with high blood pressure starting when he was 13 and he was placed on blood pressure medicine. In 2005, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
“If you have a very young patient like Mr. Ricks who has a long life ahead of him, the traditional defibrillators are subject to failure,” Dr. Sagi said. “Most young patients are very athletic. They do a lot of running and jogging and playing basketball. All these activities can result in damage to the wires that are placed inside the heart.”
Removing malfunctioning wires can also bring additional risks to the patient, Dr. Sagi added.
For Ricks, his heart problems haven’t stopped him from being active and he’s glad the new defibrillator will allow him to do even more. He bikes every day and has started yoga. “Eat right and follow your doctor’s instructions and move your body. Just keep moving,” Ricks said is his advice for others with heart issues.