Our body is ‘electric’ in some ways. The heart rhythms are developed through an electrochemical process, as are all the interactions of the nerves in the brain and nervous system. For this reason, pacemakers have been used to correct slow heart rhythms or used to stimulate areas in the brain to improve Parkinson’s tremor (Barrow’s pioneered this.)
Now a small pilot study is being conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital to see if electrical stimulation, implanted deep in the brain’s memory centers, can stimulate and protect memory in Alzheimer patients. Although a ‘pilot study’, if useful, this is a fairly simple method for helping with early Alzheimer’s disease. Data should be forthcoming in 1 year.
A recent study of implanted defibrillator heart devices, also known as an AICD, calls into question the safety of the wires (leads) on St. Jude Medical’s Durata and Riata implanted devices. This a device meant to ‘shock’ the heart out of dangerous or life-threatening arrhythmia. (It is not a pacemaker…a much more commonly used device.)
The leads are prone to failure (either causing loss of function of the device of unexpected ‘firing’ of the device.
Dr. Robert Hauser has published an article on this topic and it is the source of much controversy.
If you have an implanted defibrillator, contact your cardiologist (electrophysiology doctor) to review information about the safety and performance of your unit.
More information on this topic is available here:
To monitor your medical device, look to this FDA website and keep in contact with your physician who implanted the device.