Keeping the Beat: NewYork-Presbyterian Offers Heart Patients New Combination Defibrillator/Pacemakers

Recently Approved by FDA, Concerto™ and Virtuoso™ Devices Helps Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Oct 27, 2006


For heart failure patients who are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, state-of-the-art combination defibrillator and pacemakers implanted inside the patient's heart helps them keep the beat. The stopwatch-sized devices, called Concerto™ and Virtuoso™, recently approved by the FDA, are now available at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Advantages of the Concerto™ and Virtuoso™ over previous defibrillator-pacemakers include (1) the ability to send data wirelessly to the physician's computer, allowing the physician to monitor our patients remotely, (2) wireless communication using a dedicated radio-frequency called MICS that is safe from cell-phone interference, and (3) the ability to detect fluid buildup in the patient's lungs and chest – often the first sign of worsening heart failure.

In many heart failure patients, the electrical impulses that coordinate the contractions of the heart's chambers are impaired, causing a weakened contraction. These patients are also at risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD) – the abrupt cessation of normal circulation of the blood due to failure of the heart to contract effectively. Without immediate intervention, they are at risk of death. SCD kills an estimated 450,000 Americans every year, as many as 95 percent of whom die before reaching the hospital.

The Concerto™ and Virtuoso™ detect any abnormal heart rhythm such as ventricular tachycardia and automatically provide a shock to correct the problem. Additionally, the Concerto™ synchronizes the patient's heartbeat through a painless electric impulse to help the heart pump blood throughout the body more efficiently. The Virtuoso™ also provides limited pacing. Both devices are programmed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

"Defibrillators like the Concerto™ and Virtuoso™ have been shown to be very effective in treating dangerous heart rhythm disturbances which can lead to sudden death and give peace of mind to our patients with moderate to severe heart failure. Resynchronization devices like the Concerto™ can dramatically improve quality of life in a subset of these patients with heart failure symptoms," says Dr. Bindi Shah, assistant attending cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Implantation of the device takes about an hour, and sometimes can be done on an outpatient basis. The cardiologist or surgeon places the device's electrical lead in the heart, maneuvered through a vein using X-ray guidance. He or she then makes a small incision to place the device's control mechanism under the skin near the collar bone and connects the two parts of the device," says Dr. Jose Dizon, assistant attending cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Eligible patients include those who have intermittent ventricular tachycardia (VT), those who have survived an episode of sudden cardiac arrest, and those who have survived a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and have impaired pumping function in the lower chambers (ventricles).

Heart failure occurs when the heart is too weak to pump enough blood to sustain adequate circulation in the body's tissues. Heart failure can develop either as a result of damage to the heart muscle (due to coronary artery disease, infection or toxic exposure to chemicals such as alcohol and drugs) or when too much strain is placed on the heart.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital – based in New York City – is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,224 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health-care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. It ranks sixth on U.S.News & World Report's guide to "America's Best Hospitals," has the greatest number of physicians listed in New York magazine's "Best Doctors" issue, and is included among Solucient's top 15 major teaching hospitals. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Media Contact:

Kathy Robinson