Pacemaker Recycling: An Option to Poor Countries

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Cardiovascular diseases which can lead to heart failure are a major health dilemma among various countries. However, in developed countries, the morbidity and mortality rate of people from these diseases have decline due to the improvements and advancements of technology which addressed health problems as to the failure of heart to pump such as the invention of artificial pacemakers. But unfortunately, these improved technologies are of high cost, in which the developing countries are having hard time to avail. Thus, problems occur, but a solution is being proposed as a safe and better option.

In the medical field of cardiac electrophysiology, where it deals with pacemaker implantation, most people who belong to the developing countries are struggling to afford the very costly technology of pacemakers. But, reused pacemakers can be use as a safe alternative, according to a U.S. study published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Artificial pacemakers are medical devices used to help individuals with failing heart to function. These devices are surgically implanted to conduct electrical impulses and deliver it to the heart muscle for it to produce a desired contraction. The primary purpose of pacemakers is to maintain an adequate heart rate preventing series of difficulty of breathing and fainting among individuals affected with heart diseases.

In developing countries, most of people die due to lack of pacemakers. Recently, recycled pacemakers were donated by US funeral homes in order to help those people with no pacemakers. This became possible because nearly 19 per cent of those people who die have functioning pacemakers still, and it can be a great help to other people if these pacemakers will be reused.

According to the study leader Bharat Kantharia, of the University of Texas Health Science Center: “Implantation of donated permanent pacemakers can not only save lives but also improve quality of life of needy poor patients.”

The study involves collection of used 122 pacemakers which were donated by Kantharia and colleagues in India. The reused pacemakers underwent series of sterilization processes before it was surgically implanted among 53 patients needing it. The surgeries from the implantation of pacemakers were successful. The researchers tracked down the patients who received the pacemakers after about two years, and they found out that there was a significant improvement on the conditions and symptoms of these patients.

In conclusion, although the recycling of these pacemakers is safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only approve reusing of pacemakers for only once. Further studies must be established to provide empirical data which reveals reusing of pacemakers for many times is a safe option.

As for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “heart failure is a very common condition. About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, and it results in about 300,000 deaths each year.”

“Currently, heart failure has no cure. However, treatments—such as medicines and lifestyle changes—can help people live longer and more active lives. Researchers continue to study new ways to treat heart failure and its complications.”




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