Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the United States alone, approximately 250,000 people die every year from SCA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SCA usually results from an abnormal heart rhythm, often as a result of underlying heart conditions.
SCA can be prevented for some patients with known, underlying heart conditions by the preventive placement of an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD). ICDs detect abnormal heart rhythms and send a jolt of electricity to restore normal heart rhythm and prevent SCA.
While the therapy offered by conventional ICD systems is lifesaving, it’s not a procedure without risks. It requires threading of wires (leads) through the vascular system and the placement of one or more leads directly on the heart. After several years, the leads must be extracted or replaced, a complex and potentially risky procedure. And the placement of the device in the upper chest is very visible and can affect quality of life for many patients.
Now, patients at the Cooper Heart Institute who are at risk for SCA have a new lifesaving option that addresses many of the risks of the conventional ICD: The S-ICD® System.
The S-ICD System, approved by the FDA last fall, is the first totally subcutaneous cardiac defibrillator. It is placed entirely under the skin, eliminating the need for leads to be placed within or on the heart. The device is inserted on the side of the patient’s torso, for women – just along the bra line, making it more aesthetically pleasing to many patients as well.
“I chose to have the S-ICD System because of its inconspicuous placement, which was important to me,” said Renee Walsh, a patient from Medford, NJ, with a heart condition that puts her at risk for SCA. “The fact that the leads don’t touch the heart is great, too.”
Andrea M. Russo, MD, Director of the Cooper Electrophysiology and Arrhythmia Service at the Cooper Heart Institute, was a principal investigator in the clinical trial that led to the S-ICD System’s recent FDA-approval.
“This is a truly ground-breaking technology,” said Dr. Russo. “ICD implantation traditionally requires placement of one or more leads in the heart. Complications can arise from both conventional implant procedures and the long-term presence of leads. These are problems potentially avoided by an entirely subcutaneous device.”
Cooper was one of only 35 U.S. medical centers – and the only hospital in New Jersey — to participate in the original clinical trial for the device. It is now a leading training site for physicians from around the country interested in offering the S-ICD System to their patients.
For more information on the S-ICD System, go to cooperhealth.org/heart.