Best device found to reset heartbeat

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Southampton researchers have compared two types of defibrillator and identified the best at resetting the heart’s natural rhythm in patients with disrupted heartbeat.  

Affecting millions of people each year, atrial fibrillation is the most common form of abnormal heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia.

Defibrillators, which give out a momentary electrical impulse, are often used to reset the heart’s rhythm. There are many different types available, but little guidance on which work best for atrial fibrillation.

Now researchers in Southampton and Denmark have identified the best defibrillator for treating atrial fibrillation. Their findings are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Resetting the heart’s rhythm

Defibrillators work by sending an electrical shock through the heart to reset its natural rhythm. The electric current passes between two pads placed on the chest either side of the heart.

Most defibrillators have the same ‘biphasic’ way of working, sending shocks back and forth across the heart in both directions, but they vary in the nature and frequency of these shocks.

Informing best practice

The latest study compared the effectiveness and safety of two types of defibrillator – pulsed biphasic (PB) and biphasic truncated exponential (BTE), finding BTE defibrillators more effective for resetting the heartbeat of patients with atrial fibrillation.

Over 130 patients took part in the study, which was conducted at the Regional Hospital of Randers in Denmark. Patients were told about the study prior to treatment, with those who decided to take part randomly assigned to receive either PB or BTE treatment.

Both devices were found to be safe, but the BTE treatment saw more patients’ heartbeats return to normal within four hours.

The study team aims to use the results to change standard practice, ensuring those with atrial fibrillation get the best possible treatment.

Posted on Monday 24 April 2017