Heart surgeons at Blackpool Victoria Hospital are using a new type of defibrillator, placed under the skin, to help treat irregular heart beats.
The subcutaneous implantable defibrillator, known as the S-ICD, is being surgically placed into patients who have a very serious abnormal heart rhythm which needs shocking back into a steady beat.
Previously, their implanted defibrillator would have been placed using wires which went into their veins, but the device carried risks of infection and a complicated surgery if it needed to be removed.
So far, three patients at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre, based at the Vic, have had the new system installed.
Cardiological consultant, Dr Matthew Luckie, said: “The patients are those who have a high risk of having a very serious abnormal heart rhythm, which can make them black out and can even cause sudden death. Their heart would be racing, and unable to pump blood effectively around the body enough to keep conscious.
“So far the patients have a genetic condition causing an erratic heart rhythm. Our second patient was someone who had collapsed at home and needed resuscitating.”
Dr Luckie said surgeons were still being trained on the device, but said he expected operations to implant them to become more popular over the next couple of years.
The S-ICD constantly monitors the heart beat, and if it detects an dangerous erratic beat will shock the heart in the same way as an external defibrillator would during resuscitation.
Dr Luckie added: “The important thing about this device is that, because it is going to be used on younger groups of people than the traditional ICD, we want to avoid leads going into the vein which is associated with infection and having to take them out in the future.
“This is an exciting development for the cardiac world.
“It’s something else we can offer patients to treat their disorders.”
The old ICD device, which also acts as a pace-maker, will still be used on patients who would benefit from it better than the S-ICD.
Dr Luckie said hundreds of the older devices were fitted in Blackpool each year.