Wireless Pacemakers: Rhythm Without Blues

Traditional pacemakers are implanted under the skin and attached to a wire that is inserted directly into the heart muscle. The device generates a current that travels down the wire to control the heart’s contractions. Complications related to pacemakers are generally related to these wires, known as leads, which can fracture or become infected. Removing … Read More

Study: Implantable Defibrillator Can Save Your Life

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can save your life, even if you only have mild heart damage. Multiple studies show that ICDs improve survival in people with badly damaged hearts. Recent analysis of data shows that people with less severe cardiac damage have improved survival rates with cardioverter defibrillator devices implanted. ICDs help keep the … Read More

ICDs Best for Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death

Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs without prior symptoms and it results in as many as 325,000 deaths a year in the United States. Only 3 to 10 percent of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting survive. Today, advances in technology and treatment give hope to those at risk. Using implantable cardioverter … Read More

ICD Security Risks: More Fiction Than Fact

A recent Homeland television episode dramatized the fictitious assassination of the U.S. vice president. The diabolical method: hacking into the remote device that controlled the vice president’s implantable defibrillator. In a real-world parallel, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney admitted in a television interview that his fear of assassination led him to ask his physician … Read More

A Different Kind of Defibrillator

Good news for people who are “wired” with defibrillators that jumpstart their hearts when they skip a beat (or more): A new device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is stronger and kinder to the body. That’s because the wires (called leads) that run from the device to the heart are implanted under … Read More

ICDs That Shock Less Are Better

Shocking news: Patients with heart arrhythmia who have implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) fare better when devices are programmed to wait out irregular heart beats that aren’t sustained. Rather than programming devices to react quickly to all beating irregularities—slow heart beats (tachyarrhythmias) and those of shorter duration—a Randomized Trial to Reduce Inappropriate Therapy (MADIT-RIT) showed that ICD … Read More

Note on Scary Device Warnings

You may have read or heard about the recent recall of pacemaker leads. If you have a pacemaker or ICD (implantable cardio-defibrillator), you may be worried that you’re in some kind of danger. Should you be? Keep in mind that “recall” doesn’t mean that you need to rush to your doctor and have the lead … Read More

Dos and Don’ts: Life with an ICD

Will my cell phone ruin my ICD? What about metal detectors at airports? Here Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Thomas J. Dresing, MD, addresses some of the common questions asked by patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs): How does my ICD help me? Your ICD (a small device, about the size of a pager, placed below the … Read More