28/02/2020 | Press releases

Colchester Hospital patient receives world’s first heart implant, likened to having a “paramedic in your pocket”

A Colchester hospital patient has become the first person in the world to receive the world’s most advanced heart implant that doctors have likened to as having a “paramedic in your pocket”.

David Southworth (pictured, below), who has heart failure, was fitted with the Medtronic Cobalt implant by ESNEFT consultant cardiologist Dr Duncan Field. It can communicate with his consultant on a smart phone or tablet, wherever he is in the world.

The device has the most advanced algorithms which tailor its therapy to meet Mr Southworth’s needs. It does this by monitoring the patient’s heart every minute, identifying irregular heartbeats and responding with small electrical impulses that correct the heart’s electrical signals and reduce patient symptoms. It also sends advance warnings to hospital consultants, should it detect any changes which require health professional intervention.

Dr Field, fitted the Medtronic cardiac resynchronisation therapy-defibrillator (CRT-D) in February 2020 and has since carried out the procedure on several more patients.

He said: “The Cobalt implant offers a personalised approach to defibrillator therapy, which is a big leap forward in performance and intelligence that I liken to having a paramedic in your pocket.

“The defibrillator protects the heart from dangerous arrhythmias and can give the hospital team advanced warning if we need to intervene, wherever in the world the patient might be.

“The cardiac resynchronisation part of the device focuses on helping the muscles of the heart to beat in the right way. It’s like a tug of war team – if you can get the muscles to work at the same time and in rhythm, they are more effective at pumping blood around the body.”

The procedure was carried out at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre in Basildon, by Dr Field, and involved giving Mr Southworth a local anaesthetic, passing leads through the veins into the heart and then implanting the device via a small incision under the patient’s collarbone.

Mr Southworth, 73, said: “It’s helped me to breathe easier, walk further, and two weeks on, I feel better for it already.

“I took the procedure in my stride and I am pleased to play my part. Hopefully, the device can help a lot of other patients similar to me.”

Dr Field said: “Mr Southworth’s early progress is encouraging as improvement takes place during the first three to six months following implant. Thanks to the protection of the device he can go and live his life again.”

Rob Kowal, chief medical officer of the Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure division at Medtronic – the makers of the device – said: “These advancements will help physicians respond to patients’ individual needs through informed clinical decision making, potentially improving the outcomes of patients around the world.”

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