Hospital implants first heart defibrillator
07 November 2012
Roy Harrington was completely unaware he had a heart problem – until he had a stroke last year. He had had no symptoms and had no family history.
Roy, 58, made a good recovery from the stroke and it was only in
subsequent tests that he discovered he had dilated cardiomyopathy -
deterioration of the heart muscle.
The father-of-three of High Road, Benfleet, said: "I did get a
bit breathless but just put that down to being a bit out of
Now he has just become the first patient to have a heart
defibrillator implanted in his chest at Southend University
The Swiss-made titanium device has been inserted beneath the
skin near the clavicle, or collar bone, where it is able to detect
any life-threatening change to the heart rhythm. If it does, it can
then deliver a shock to make the heart revert to a safe and steady
The procedure, which took about an hour, was performed by Dr
Sajjad Mazhar with the help of senior physiologists Nikki Baines
and Katy Deane.
Amy Greenhalgh of the manufacturers Medtronic said: "Having the
implant means that patients are not reliant on being near a
telephone or someone trained in first aid if the heart suddenly
starts racing. The device will automatically kick in to regulate
the heart rhythm."
Roy said: "It is a wonderful piece of kit - just about the size
of a small box of matches and weighs about the same as a cup of
"I did not think I needed it but the doctors felt I did so I was
guided by the experts. It is going to be a life-saving measure.
"There was no pain with the procedure - I just felt a bit of
pressure - and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is told
they need it."
Hours after having the device inserted, he was able to go home
to his wife, Andrea, and three sons. He was given lots of
information regarding the implant and hopes to be back 'in full
swing' very soon.
He said: "I went into hospital for the procedure just five days
after my assessment and everyone has looked after me very
Until now, patients requiring this service have had to go either
to a London hospital or to the cardiac care centre at Basildon.
Nikki said: "From a patient's point of view, it is much better
to be able to have it done here and not have to travel.
"We expect to carry out 22 procedures in the first year,
increasingly steadily after that."
With pic:Roy Harrington with consultant cardiologist Dr Sajjad
Mazhar and (l to r) cardiac day stay deputy manager Katie Schirn,
senior chief physiologist Katy Deane and principal physiologist