Does your heart skip a beat?

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Carilion Clinic Cardiology is performing two new procedures that can make a big difference in patients’ quality of life.

Your heart has its own electrical system.  The electric signals keep it beating at just the right rhythm to move blood through your body.   If the electrical system doesn’t work correctly, your heart can beat out of rhythm.  In extreme cases, the irregular rhythm prevents the heart from delivering enough blood to your body.   Sometimes it can cause cardiac arrest and even death.

Implantable defibrillators are small devices in the body that monitor your heart.  If your heart beats out of rhythm, the defibrillator delivers an electrical pulse that restores normal rhythm.  Advances in technology are making defibrillators safer and available to more patients.

Fixing fatal heart rhythm without wiring the heart
The new, completely subcutaneous cardiac defibrillator system, SQ-ICD,  from Boston Scientific is the world’s first defibrillator that never touches the heart.  Older technology uses wires that run through a vein and are attached directly to the heart. The SQ-ICD device is placed just under the skin.  It can monitor and send a pulse to the heart without actually touching it.  This means the heart rhythm specialist never has to touch the patient’s heart or blood vessels.  The procedure is less invasive with potentially less complications.

  Electrophysiologist Soufian AlMahameed, M.D., implanted Carilion Clinic’s first S-ICD in May.

“This is a completely subcutaneous cardiac defibrillator which means recipients of this device will not have any hardware inside their circulation system or inside their heart,” said Dr. AlMahameed. “We hope that young patients in need for ICD will experience less heart related complications and interventions with this new technology. We are excited for this new device for our patients who need implantable cardiac defibrillator for prevention of sudden cardiac death and at the same time who have no existing indication for cardiac pacemaker.”

Fewer wires, fewer complications
Sometimes patients need both a defibrillator, to restore normal rhythm, and a pacemaker to help the heart maintain a healthy rhythm.  Older technology required two wires (called leads) attached to different parts of the heart.  The new BiotroniK Single-Lead ICD can accomplish the same thing with a single wire.  This means shorter surgeries and fewer potential complications.

According to Dr. AlMahameed, “the BiotroniK ICD device has new technology that offers the ability to detect electrical signals from two cardiac chambers with single lead. This device will enhance detection of silent atrial fibrillation and we hope it will reduce the short and long term device related complications”

Carilion Clinic Cardiology electrophysiologists, Dr. Soufian AlMahameed, Dr. Alexander Vigh, and Dr. Carl Musser are the first in the region to offer these two news procedures.  Making new technology available to our patients is part of our commitment to improve the health of the communities we are proud to serve.

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