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With the burden of non–communicable diseases increasing day by day, cardiologists say one in every 1,000 people above the age of 60 years are in need of a pacemaker in India.

Young people who have suffered a heart attack are also at a greater risk of developing heart failure within a few years. So the number of people requiring a pacemaker is gradually going up.

All these years cardiologists faced a big dilemma in advising a patient with heart problems about getting a pacemaker if they had other morbidities that required magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, as the high magnetic field of the MRI machine can interfere with the heart device and cause problems for the patient ranging from generating excess heat to fatality.

The number of MRI scans performed worldwide has increased dramatically over the past few years and statistics show that more than 30 million scans are done per year. Similarly, more than 650,000 new pacemakers are implanted every year globally. The need for MRI scans increases with age just like that for pacemaker goes up. As a solution to this problem, medical equipment manufacturing companies have been working towards developing a pacemaker which is MRI compatible.

MRI-compatible pacemaker offers hope for patients with risk of heart failure

The first MRI compatible pacemaker was launched two years ago. Recently, a German company has come out with one of the world's smallest pacemakers called Iforia series which is also MRI compatible.

Electrophysiologist Dr Ulhas Pandurangi of Madras Medical Mission said that an MRI compatible pacemaker could go a long way in better treatment of heart failures and also mortality prevention in heart patients. "MRI is the gold standard for soft tissue imaging and is widely used in treatment of a wide range of conditions such as cancer, musculoskeletal system, and neurological disorders. But the safety of MRI in patients with implanted pacemakers (PPM) has been debated for years. An MRI compatible pacemaker would ensure that we do not have to compromise on patient safety in case they have other disorders," he said.

The device which promises longevity of more than seven years has a longer battery life and the Iforia series would help the patients monitor their health status from their own homes. It comes with a cardio messenger which picks up messages from the pacemaker and sends it to the physician as a mail through satellite. This helps a heart patient to be in constant touch with his doctor who can assess the situation periodically.

Dr Manoj, cardiologist at Bharathiraja Hospitals, said with advancement in nanotechnology, several heart devices were shrinking in size and ensuring better comfort for the patients. "Devices like the MRI compatible pacemakers and heartware ventricular assist device (HVAD) were much bigger in terms of size and weight when they were launched a few years ago. But over the years, better research and technology has paved way for smaller devices," he said.

Source
Times of India
18 October 2013,
Chennai, India.
by- Janani Sampath


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