New tool at Duluth hospital saves lives

By KBJR News 1

April 1, 2014 Updated Apr 1, 2014 at 10:18 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- We already know that defibrillators save lives. But the trick is getting to the heart attack victim quickly enough. A new device at Essentia-Health-St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth may have solved that problem.

John Evans is the first in the Northland to have his life saved by a new defibrillator device.

"I didn't know I was the first until afterwards. The doctors told me about it." said Evans.

The device is called a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator or S-ICD and it's already saved the lives of Evans and another patient in the Northland.
This small piece of equipment is different from other defibrillators because it doesn't touch the heart.

"There is a system that is able to sense cardiac stimuli and basically deliver shock to the heart when needed without going through a vessel going through the vein." said Electrophysiologist, Dr. Julia Montgomery.

Normally wires are inserted into the veins and the leads are guided to the heart, but the S-ICD works by sending signals just over the breastbone to the heart.
The device has been described as more comfortable than a standard defibrillator.

"People have less discomfort with having this device on the side because it's away from the chest area that is more involved in physical work." said Montgomery.

Young people could benefit from a device like this, because it poses less risk for leads in the growing body to fracture. The device also lowers the risk of infection when compared to a traditional defibrillator. As for John Evans, he received the device because of physical restrictions within his heart.

"I just feel healthier. Things seem to be going much better for me." said Evans.

And with many heartfelt thanks to the doctors that have brought him a new lease on life.

Doctors have received special education and training to bring the S-ICD technology to the Northland.

Bryce Henry