Scotland first for new heart defibrillator

A SCOTTISH hospital has become the first in Europe to use a new device to help patients at risk of suffering a sudden cardiac arrest.

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital, in Clydebank, has used a Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (S-ICD), which senses potentially life-threatening disturbances in the heart rhythm and administers a pulse to correct them and help avoid a cardiac arrest.

The hospital was joint first in Europe to implant an S-ICD device manufactured outside of America in a patient, with a hospital in Ireland carrying out the procedure at the same time in May.

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The technology has been used since 2008, but its availability to patients in Europe has been limited due to the device only being produced in the US.

It is hoped the development will lead to more patients now benefiting from the procedure.

Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICDs) are implanted in the body to help detect changes in the heart rhythm which could signal problems, with an electric pulse delivered to correct that problem.

But unlike a traditional ICD which is attached to the heart, an S-ICD sits just below the skin, leaving the heart untouched.

The Golden Jubilee has worked alongside the manufacturers of the device Boston Scientific to make it more readily available to patients in Europe after starting manufacturing them in Ireland.

Dr Derek Connelly, consultant cardiologist at the Golden Jubilee, said: “This is a fantastic development for the NHS in Scotland and we are thrilled to be the first to make this technology available to more patients than ever before.

“Traditionally, patients at risk from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) would receive a Transvenous ICD, which is physically attached to the heart wall and uses leads fed into the vein.

“With this new technology, electrodes are placed just below the skin, leaving the patient’s heart and veins completely untouched.

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“This eliminates the risk of vascular injury and complications stemming from implantation or extraction and dramatically reduces the possibility of infection, resulting in better outcomes and far more efficient treatment for the people of Scotland.”

SCA is often referred to as a “silent killer” as it is almost impossible to detect when it may strike.

The problem claims more than 350,000 lives a year in Europe alone and is fatal if not treated within minutes.

Experts said the S-ICD responds instantly to irregularities in heart rhythm, administering defibrillation therapy and sending an electric shock to the heart, restoring a normal rhythm and ensuring blood flow throughout the body.

Paudie O’Connor, from Boston Scientific, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside the expert team at the Golden Jubilee to implant the first S-ICD manufactured at our Clonmel facilities [in Ireland].

“We are very proud of our team who have worked so hard to bring this innovative technology from America to Europe, getting to a point that we can satisfy worldwide demand for this treatment.

“This is an extremely exciting time for everyone involved.”

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