Pacemaker battery scandalBMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i228 (Published 04 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i228
- John Dean, consultant cardiologist 1,
- Neil Sulke, consultant cardiologist 2
- 1Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter EX2 5DW, UK
- 2Eastbourne Hospital, Eastbourne, UK
- Correspondence to: J Dean
Imagine spending £3000 on a new watch with a battery embedded in the mechanism that cannot be replaced or recharged. Although the battery is predicted to last 10 years or more, after six years you discover that it is running flat and you’re advised to replace the watch immediately, even though it may keep good time for a year or more.
This mirrors the dilemma faced by all patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD). But for them the stakes are much higher as replacing the battery exposes them to a risk of serious complications, including life threatening infection.
Over half of all patients with pacemakers require a replacement procedure because the batteries have reached their expected life.1 Some 11-16% need multiple replacements.2 The situation is worse for recipients …