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Approximately three million people worldwide have hearts that beat too fast.
Abnormally rapid heartbeats can deteriorate into a life-threatening condition
called ventricular fibrillation, the major cause of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
Every year, approximately 350,000 Americans lose their lives to SCA.
On Friday, August 27, Michael O. Sweeney, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist
performed the nation’s first implant of a new dual-chamber implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
(ICD). The ICD is uniquely designed to promote natural heart activity and reduce
unnecessary pacing in the lower right chamber of the heart. This is a significant
patient benefit because unnecessary pacing has been shown to be harmful to some
The device’s Managed Ventricular Pacing (MVP™), developed through
a joint research effort between BWH’s Department of Cardiology and Medtronic,
Inc., the defibrillator automatically adapts the way it paces, allowing the heart
to function as normally as possible.
Sweeney said procedures like these are routine, but last Friday’s insert
of the ICD made history as being the first in the U.S. “The procedure went
perfectly, as planned,” said Sweeney after the implant. “It was all
made possible by the dedicated people here and by those who supported the research
and development.” This first implant is the culmination of a seven-year
effort from concept through creation of the device.
The first experimental and investigative human use occurred in October 2002,
and was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration this June, one month
after European use was permitted. “To go from a proof of concept to a device
that is commercially available in 24 months is unheard of and an extraordinary
achievement,” Sweeney added.