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WakeMed News Releases

February 11, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. (February 11, 2014) – 46 years after performing the first open heart surgery in Wake County, WakeMed Health & Hospitals will soon offer another first in Wake County -- a revolutionary procedure for patients who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. The first subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) will be implanted in a patient at WakeMed Heart Center tomorrow, and it won’t ever touch the heart.

This new technology provides a gentler form of defibrillation therapy and new class of protection for patients in the event of an abrupt loss of heart function, known as sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Most episodes of SCA are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular fibrillation.

During the procedure, the device – the S-ICD® System – is implanted just under the skin (subcutaneously) to help to restore the heart’s normal rhythm whenever it is needed, leaving the heart and blood vessels untouched. Unlike traditional transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), the S-ICD System doesn’t implant hardware – thin, insulated wires known as leads – into the heart. This device makes it possible to deliver a life-saving shock with less risk to the patient, while offering the same safeguards as traditional ICDs.

“WakeMed has been an innovator in matters of the heart for nearly 50 years,” commented Betsy Gaskins-McClaine, vice president, WakeMed Heart & Vascular Services. “Our focus is providing exceptional, individualized care that best supports our patients’ needs. Offering this new procedure is an extension of the WakeMed Heart Center’s commitment to leadership in ensuring our cardiac patients receive the right treatments at the right time with the highest quality of care.”

Dr. George Hamrick (WakeMed Physician Practices – Carolina Cardiology) and Dr. Pavlo Netrebko (WakeMed Physician Practices – Cary Cardiology) are among only a handful of cardiologists in N.C. trained to use and able to offer the S-ICD System option to patients. And on February 12, Dr. Hamrick will implant WakeMed’s first-ever subcutaneous implantable defibrillator.

The S-ICD system has been widely studied and supported for its safety and efficacy, receiving its CE Mark in 2009 and regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration in September 2012. This less-invasive treatment is a new option for patients without venous access, those with high risk for infections and potentially younger patients who need long-term ICD therapy.

Other potential patient benefits include a decreased risk for systemic infections and clinical complications, prevention of any vascular injury as well as the preservation of venous access. Recent estimates show that approximately 850,000 people in the United States are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, but remain unprotected without an ICD.

To date, more than 2,000 devices have been implanted in patients around the world. And in September 2013, the S-ICD System was named best medical technology product by the Galien Foundation, which honors excellence in scientific innovation and humanitarian efforts.

The S-ICD System from Boston Scientific has two main components: (1) the pulse generator, which powers the system, monitors heart activity, and delivers a shock if needed, and (2) the electrode, which enables the device to sense the cardiac rhythm and serves as a pathway for shock delivery when necessary. Both components are implanted just under the skin—the generator at the side of the chest, and the electrode beside the breastbone. Implantation with the S-ICD System is straightforward and can be done using only anatomical landmarks, which removes the need for fluoroscopy (an X-ray procedure) that is needed in order to place the standard leads in the heart.

About WakeMed Health & Hospitals
WakeMed Health & Hospitals is a private, not-for-profit health care organization based in Raleigh, N.C. The 884-bed system comprises a network of health care facilities throughout Wake and Johnston Counties. Centers of excellence include cardiac and vascular care, women’s and children’s services, emergency and trauma, physical rehab and specialization in orthopaedics and neurosciences. Specialty facilities include the WakeMed Heart Center, Children’s Hospital, Women’s Pavilion and Birthplace, Rehabilitation Hospital, Adult and Children’s Emergency Departments and a Level 1 Trauma Center. Locally based and community owned, WakeMed exists for the health of the community and is committed to a variety of health and wellness improvement programs. WakeMed’s team of more than 8,300 employees, 1,500 volunteers, more than 1,200 affiliated physicians, and 255 physicians employed by WakeMed Physician Practices serve the residents of North Carolina using the most advanced technologies to ensure the finest in health care. For more information, visit www.wakemed.org.

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