Gwinnett Medical Center physicians recently became the first in North Metro Atlanta to conduct a subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator (SICD) procedure. Recently approved by the FDA, SICD has advantages over the conventional implanted defibrillators in that it does not require a wire into the heart.
In the United States more than 300,000 people die yearly of sudden cardiac arrest, which stems from an irregular heartbeat. While some irregular heartbeat conditions are merely uncomfortable, ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation can cause the heart to stop. Recently the effort to put defibrillators (AED or automated external defibrillator) into public spaces has brought attention to sudden cardiac arrest. AED devices have helped restore electrical signals for some people whose hearts stop, but this is a last-ditch effort.
“Prevention is better,”said Niraj Sharma, M.D., a GMC cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist. “We can use an implanted defibrillator to maintain a normal rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac arrest.”
Conventional implanted defibrillators include wires that extend into the patient’s heart. As with any mechanical device, the wire can get infected, break or dislodge. Putting in the wire into the heart initially has additional risks, as does removing a damaged or dislodged wire.
While conventional implanted defibrillators have been in use for years, and are still necessary in some cases.
“This alternative is particularly useful for patients with compromised vascular access or younger patients who may require multiple defibrillators during their lifetime,” said Sharma.