Tuesday, September 21, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) strikes about 300,000 Americans annually, and without rapid treatment, more than 95 percent die – most within minutes. Fortunately, many patients at risk for this life-threatening condition now have a less invasive, potentially lower-risk treatment option thanks to a groundbreaking clinical trial underway at Presbyterian Hospital.
Traditionally, many patients at risk for SCA have received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a small, battery-powered device that monitors and treats heart rhythm abnormalities. In conventional ICD devices, wires are attached inside or directly on the patient’s heart and connected to the ICD. The device acts as an automatic “emergency response team,” detecting life-threatening rhythms and shocking the heart to restore the normal heart rhythm.
An experimental, subcutaneous (or ‘under the skin’) version of these implantable lifesavers, known as the S-ICD® System, was developed as a minimally invasive treatment for patients at risk for SCA. Unlike a traditional ICD, an S-ICD® does not require the wire to touch the patient’s heart. Instead, the wire is implanted just beneath the skin. As a result, the actual procedure to implant the S-ICD® System is minimally invasive, and the potential for serious complications tied to failures of the heart wires in traditional ICD devices may be eliminated.
The S-ICD® System is currently experimental and is only available through clinical trial. Presbyterian Hospital is one of just three sites in North Carolina and 15 nationwide participating in the study; on September 9, Mark Kremers, MD, FACC, FHRS, of Mid Carolina Cardiology and the Presbyterian Cardiovascular Institute, led the hospital’s first S-ICD® System implantation. Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, which like Presbyterian Hospital is owned by Novant Health, implanted the state’s first S-ICD® earlier this month.
“ICDs have been very successful at preventing sudden cardiac arrest in specific high-risk patients,” said Dr. Kremers, who in addition to actually implanting the S-ICD® System serves as the site’s principal investigator. “Now, the S-ICD® provides a less invasive, potentially lower-risk way to rescue patients from premature death and give them many more years of life.”
Having heart disease increases a patient’s risk of SCA. Call 704-384-CARE (2273) to schedule a free heart screening. To learn more about the Presbyterian Cardiovascular Institute, including the full scope of treatment options for heart rhythm abnormalities, visit www.presbyterian.org/heart.