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Washington Regional First in NWA to Implant Innovative Defibrillator

A cardiovascular team at Washington Regional’s Walker Heart Institute recently became the first in Northwest Arkansas to implant a subcutaneous implantable defibrillator, or S-ICD, that provides protection against sudden cardiac arrest without touching the heart.

In a procedure that lasted about an hour, cardiac electrophysiologist Boris Bogomilov, MD, of Walker Heart Institute Cardiovascular Clinic and cardiovascular surgeon John Weiss, MD, of Cardiovascular Surgical Clinic of Northwest Arkansas implanted the Boston Scientific EMBLEM S-ICD System just below the patient’s skin without any wires being placed into the heart itself. "By leaving the heart and blood vessels untouched, this procedure represents a less invasive treatment option for patients who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest," Dr. Bogomilov says. "It offers a high level of protection, with a lower risk of complications."

Sudden cardiac arrest is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions due to irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Without immediate treatment with defibrillation to restore a normal heartbeat, brain damage and death can occur.

For those at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, a traditional treatment option has been an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, which is an implanted device that can sense arrhythmias and deliver strong electrical shocks to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. Traditional ICDs require wires inserted into the heart through a vein in the upper chest. The EMBLEM S-ICD System, which has been approved by the FDA, is designed to provide the same protection from sudden cardiac arrest as traditional ICDs, but without any wires inserted into the heart. Like other ICDs, the S-ICD System continuously monitors a patient’s heart rhythm, 24 hours a day, and sends out an electrical shock to correct any arrhythmia.

Mark Bever, executive vice president and administrator of Washington Regional Medical Center, says, "It is exciting to witness yet another innovation pioneered at Walker Heart Institute. With Northwest Arkansas’ only electrophysiology program, Dr. Bogomilov and his team continue to provide patients with the latest lifesaving advances in cardiovascular care."