Tulsa Hospital Uses New Implantable Defibrillator

Wednesday, March 26th 2014, 6:23 pm
By: News On 6

The Heart Hospital at Saint Francis has a new device that can help ease the minds of those at risk of a possible heart attack.

According to the Heart Foundation, 680 people die every day because of a heart attack. But a new implantable defibrillator is designed to detect an irregular heartbeat and shock it back into rhythm.

Jim Couch said he narrowly escaped death when he had a heart attack at his grandson's wrestling match last December.

"Oh I got sick, and sweating, and I couldn't breathe and I was hurting in my arm and my chest," Couch said.

Couch was having a heart attack due to a blocked artery. He went to the hospital and got it cleared out, but his doctor was worried he would have another heart attack.

That's where a pager-sized device came into play. The device was implanted into Couch's side and a wire runs to his heart.

"It's a generational leap with the new technology," said Cardiologist Dr. Sanjeev Trehan.

Trehan said the Heart Hospital at Saint Francis was the first hospital in Oklahoma to implant the new device. It monitors the heart, looking for an irregular beat. When it detects a problem, it shocks the heart back to normal.

The difference between this device and the older implantable defibrillators is the wire doesn't actually touch the heart. In the other devices, the wires go into the heart, putting the wire at risk of damage and needing to be replaced. In this device, the wires go between the skin and breastbone.

"Because it doesn't touch the heart it is not at risk of the stresses that come with a contracting heart," Trehan said.

"I can sleep at night and I don't have to lay awake and listen to him breath," Jim's wife, Carol, said.

Jim and his wife say the device is, literally, a heart-saver. They're not worried anymore, and they can get back to enjoying life.

"It gives me peace of mind knowing that. I mean, where we live it'd take an hour or so for somebody to get there and I can be gone," Couch said.

The battery in the device is expected to last about ten years before it needs to be replaced. Couch's doctor said he can do everything he did before without worry, including swimming.