Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Senior doctors expose 'scandal' of pacemaker battery life

The inevitable results of extreme capitalism. Extremes of any kind usually have bad results.


Public Release: 4-Feb-2016
Senior doctors expose 'scandal' of pacemaker battery life

The battery life of implantable heart monitors must be improved to reduce the need for replacement and the risks this carries for patients, argue two senior doctors in The BMJ today.

Cardiologists John Dean and Neil Sulke say over half of patients with pacemakers will need new batteries and many need several replacements.

Not only is money wasted replacing batteries before they've expired, this "exposes patients to risk of serious complications, including life threatening infection," they warn.

The situation is worse for patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), they add, since the risks of infection at the time of implant and device replacement are higher than with pacemakers and the batteries have a shorter life (around four to seven years on average).

"The increased risk of infection associated with battery replacement makes it critical that we prolong the life of implantable devices as much as possible," they write.

Yet they point out that the current financial model discourages the development of longer life devices. "With financial disincentives for both manufacturers and purchasers it is hardly surprising that longer life devices do not exist."

Furthermore, patients are often assumed to prefer smaller devices, they say, but when offered the choice, over 90% would opt for a larger, longer lasting device over a smaller one that would require more frequent operations to change the battery.


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