IMPORTANT: Statement on Device Malfunction


Following recent inaccurate media reports on supposedly faulty devices, the following statement is being issued jointly by Arrhythmia Alliance and British Heart Rhythm Society.

Medical devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are used to help manage and, in the case of an ICD, prevent avoidable deaths due to a potentially fatal arrhythmia (heart rhythm disorder).  These devices do not cure the arrhythmia, they monitor and correct as appropriate.  Similar to chemotherapy treatment for cancer, medical devices prolong life and improve the quality of life for those suffering with cardiac arrhythmias.

In the UK all devices are registered and many have the option of remote monitoring or clinical appointments, each patient has the option to be regularly checked.  The centre that implants the device will follow up the individual patient on a regular basis and with the latest devices data on the function of the device and the patient’s heart rhythm is sent automatically to the hospital via a secure internet connection on a regular basis.  If the settings need adjusting or the device battery is nearing the end of its life then the patient is brought back to clinic for adjustments to be made or a change of generator (battery).

On the rare occasion the device or leads are faulty, procedures are in place to recall the possible affected devices and the individual patients are contacted by their implanting hospital.  This is a rare occurrence for a small number of devices.

Putting this in perspective, over 100,000 people die each year in the UK from sudden cardiac death.  With greater awareness and provision of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places many of these lives would be saved and patients would go on to receive an ICD which would prolong their lives.

Clinicians and professional patient organisations work tirelessly to ensure information, education and awareness is increased and more people recognise symptoms and visit their doctors to ensure they receive an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Over 59,000 pacemakers and ICDs are implanted in the UK annually, saving, prolonging and improving quality of life for these people.

Many hundreds of thousands of lives would be lost if we did not have these devices and the robust procedures in place to implant and monitor each individual device.

More information on cardiac arrhythmias and devices can be found at www.heartrhythmcharity.org.uk or www.bhrs.com.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact -
Arrhythmia Alliance Helpline: 01789 867 501
Email: info@heartrhythmalliance.org
Or contact the implanting centre at your hospital.

 

Trudie C A Lobban MBE                              Prof Nick Linker
Founder & Trustee, Arrhythmia Alliance        President, British Heart Rhythm Society