New Cardiac Defibrillator In Use at Hartford Hospital

March 31, 2011

On March 31, 2011, Dr. Steven L. Zweibel, director of electrophysiology, was one of the first surgeons in the country to implant a new Medronic Protecta cardiac defibrillator, approved three days earlier by the FDA. The Protecta defibrillator can distinguish between benign and fatal arrhythmias, largely removing the threat of unneeded shocks.

Hartford Hospital was one of just two hospitals in the Northeast to receive the first shipment of the device. The surgery was featured in a March 31 Hartford Courant article, “Hartford Hospital Puts New Heart Device in Patient.” 

protecta_device Implantable defibrillators are designed to provide lifesaving shocks or painless pacing to stop life-threatening fast or irregular heart beats, also known as ventricular arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac death kills more people each year than lung cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. Medtronic estimates more than 70,000 lives have been saved worldwide by implantable defibrillators over the past five years.

While the majority of shocks delivered are necessary to treat potentially fatal arrhythmias, studies estimate that up to 20 percent of patients with implantable defibrillators may experience inappropriate shocks in response to a benign arrhythmia or electrical noise sensed by the device. Additionally, data show that 61 percent of patients who received an inappropriate shock visited the hospital, clinic or emergency room at least once within three days of receiving therapy.

Medtronic estimates, based on a study, that 92 percent of patients using its new technology will be free of inappropriate shocks five years after implantation.