A device that can shock a failing heart back to life is now available for Joondalup Health Campus patients.

The subcutaneous implantable defibrillator sends an electric shock to the heart if it detects a fast heartbeat to prevent a sudden cardiac arrest.

Access Cardiology’s, Dr Justin Ng was the first doctor at Joondalup Health Campus to implant this new device in a patient.

“There are other hospitals in Western Australia that are already using this device, but this is new for Joondalup Health Campus and it provides an alternative treatment option for people living locally who are at high risk of sudden cardiac death and are deemed suitable,” said Dr Ng.

Compared to a transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillator implant, which has one or two leads that are placed in the heart, Dr Ng said that there is less risk of infection with this new technology.

“Compared to older technology, the advantage with the subcutaneous implantable defibrillator is that everything remains outside the heart and blood vessels which lessens the risk of serious infection.

“When the device detects a serious problem with heart rhythm it delivers a shock which can re-start the heart – in the same way we would use an external defibrillator on a person who is having a cardiac arrest,” said Dr Ng.

Dr Ng said patients who would benefit the most from this new technology are young patients who have inherited electrical problems in the heart and patients who are at risk of a sudden cardiac arrest because of other heart problems.

“The most common causes of sudden cardiac arrest include previous large heart attacks resulting in weak pumping action of the heart, a viral infection or congenital heart disease.  All of these things can lead to electrical problems and some of these patients would benefit from the new device,” said Dr Ng.