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Man gripping his chest with his vital signs showing a heart attack.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: The Silent Killer

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Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States for adults over the age of 40 with nearly 850,000 people considered high risk. SCA is caused by an abrupt loss of heart function brought on by a rapid and/or chaotic activity known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. This condition is very different from a heart attack, as it leads to the immediate loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. It’s estimated that about 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before ever reaching the hospital, which is why a new medical procedure is being hailed as a lifesaver.

Daniel Morin, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Research at Ochsner Medical Center, recently implanted the Boston Scientific S-ICD®™ System, the world's first and only cardioverter defibrillator that is placed below the skin as a treatment for patients at risk for SCA.

Placed outside the rib cage, the S-ICD System has two components – the pulse generator and the electrode. Together, they monitor the heart activity for irregular cardiac rhythms, and serve as a pathway for shock delivery when necessary. When the device delivers treatment, it causes a jolt through a thin, insulated wire to the side of the chest, restarting the heart without actually touching the heart.

“Other implantable defibrillators have wires that are placed into the heart through blood vessels, and those wires are those devices’ weakest link,” explains Dr. Morin. “This new device leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched, providing a new exciting solution for both physicians and patients. It’s a lifesaving therapy that is minimally invasive and eliminates many of the risks associated with having wires placed through the blood vessels and into the heart.”

Word is spreading quickly about this new technology as it’s an improvement on other surgically implanted defibrillators.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted regulatory approval for the S-ICD System in September of 2012. To date, more than 2,000 devices have been implanted in patients around the world.

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