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Warning Issued for Heart Defibrillators

St. Jude Medical has issued a warning about heart defibrillators because the heart defibrillators have had issues with battery failure. The warning affects almost 400,000 defibrillators around the world. The battery failure in two such defibrillators has been linked to two deaths.

The almost 400,000 devices affected by the warning are called implantable cardioverter defibrillators or ICDs and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators or CRT-Ds. The devices affected were produced before May 2015 and may have premature battery depletion.

ICDs and CRT-Ds are devices that have wires that connect to the heart that regulate the heart beat. These devices can help patients with by either pacing the heartbeat or by sending shocks that return the heartbeat to its normal pace.

The loss of battery in the devices can cause major problems for the device user. It can lead to the device not working, thus it will not administer the shocks or help with the pacing of the heartbeat. 

The early battery depletion is believed to be caused by a build up of lithium in the batteries. Most of the devices that are in use have not had premature battery depletion, but the amount of how many devices are affected is unknown.

The batterys have alert system build in to inform the users that the battery is runing low. The alert typically turns on about 3 months before the battery dies. Some of the affected devices alerts have only turned on a few weeks or a few days before the battery dies.

If you have one of these devices, you should check to see if your device is affected by the warning. This can be done by going to St. Jude's Medical website and entering information about your device.

If the low battery alert goes off on the device, patients are encouraged to contact their doctor immediately. St. Jude Medical recommends immediate change if the low battery alert goes off.

The FDA recommends that patients use home monitoring of their devices. Home monitoring will alert the patients doctor when the device has low battery. 

What do you think about this warning?

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