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Shock Therapy for Cardiac Arrest

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 4:08 pm | Updated: 4:42 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

Each year, more than 300,000 people die in the U.S. from cardiac arrest.

Some hearts beat too slow, other too fast, but now a new type of shock therapy is helping save hearts.

This is a good day for Merle Honey. 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."

Merle suffers from a dangerously fast heartbeat. "My heart takes off on a run. It races away."

A traditional defibrillator, or ICD, was implanted a few years ago. "When you get a shock, it comes out of nowhere, and there's a big yell."

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."

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

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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