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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Cardiovascular Health Channel
Reported January 24, 2013

Shock Therapy for the Heart

SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Each year more than 300,000 people die in the U.S. from cardiac arrest. Some hearts beat too slow, others’ too fast. Now, a new type of shock therapy is helping save hearts.

This is a good day for Merle Honey. Today he’s being released from the hospital - one of the first people in the U.S. to have a new defibrillator implanted in his chest.

“I’ve had a lot of problems with this old ticker,” says cardiac patient Merle Honey. 

Merle suffers from a dangerously fast heartbeat.

“My heart takes off on a run. It races away,” explains Honey.

A traditional defibrillator, or ICD, was implanted a few years ago. His original defibrillator was put in the left side of his chest. A wire was snaked into one of the veins, under his collar bone and into his heart. Merle’s wire caused a life-threatening infection and had to be removed.

“This new defibrillator is put underneath the skin, lower down in the chest and has a wire that goes just outside the chest wall and up the sternum,” Jordan Prutkin, M.D., a Cardiologist from Harborview Medical Center at the University of Washington tells Ivanhoe.

Wiping out or reducing the chance of complications from the traditional wire, such as infection or puncturing the lung or the heart.

Dr. Prutkin explains that, “There’s nothing that’s going into any of the blood vessels, and nothing that’s going into the heart itself.”

The new SICD keeps track of the heart; a normal heart beats 50 to 90 times a minute. If Merle’s heart beats between 180 and 220, it tries to determine if the situation is life-threatening and will shock him.

“He’s gonna feel it. It’s gonna feel like getting kicked in the chest,” says Dr. Prutkin.

After a little heart to heart with his doctor, Merle’s heading home without any worries or wires.

This new SICD is not for everyone. Unlike the traditional ICD’s, there’s no pacing capabilities. So if the heart starts to beat too slow it cannot bring it back up to speed.

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If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at

For More Information, Please Contact:

Jordan M. Prutkin, M.D., M.H.S., Assistant Professor of Medicine

Washington University Medical Center

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