(NewsUSA) – Each year, millions of people are affected by ventricular arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. If left untreated, fast or irregular heartbeats can lead to sudden cardiac death, a condition that kills about 300,000 people in the United States each year,1 more than lung cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined.2,3

The key to preventing an arrhythmia from becoming a serious health issue is knowing the warning signs, seeing a doctor for recommended tests to determine if your heart is beating irregularly and receiving an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or cardiac resynchronization therapy-defibrillator (CRT-D) if an arrhythmia is detected.

Symptoms of rapid heart beating, also called ventricular tachycardia, can include palpitations, rapid heart beats, chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or near fainting if the heart is beating too fast to circulate blood effectively. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit a doctor to determine if your condition requires treatment.

ICDs and CRT-Ds Effectively Treat Fast or Irregular Heartbeats

For the past 30 years, ICDs, or small, pocket-sized computers inserted directly under the skin in the upper chest, have been saving lives by delivering a lifesaving shock or painless pacing to stop life-threatening fast or irregular heartbeats. While the majority of shocks delivered are necessary to treat potentially fatal arrhythmias, studies estimate that up to 20 percent of patients with implantable defibrillators may experience inappropriate shocks in response to a benign arrhythmia or electrical noise sensed by the device.4,5,6,7

Protecta XT and ProtectaTM: The Latest Innovation to Reduce Inappropriate Shocks

Medtronic’s new Protecta portfolio of implantable defibrillators includes exclusive features to reduce inappropriate shocks. With SmartShock™ Technology, six Medtronic-exclusive algorithms distinguish between life-threatening and non life-threatening arrhythmias and electrical noise within the device system and deliver lifesaving shock therapy.

“With the advanced technology now available, I know I’m providing my patients with the best care for their heart and also offering them increased peace of mind,” said Hafiza Khan, M.D., electrophysiologist at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano. “This new technology’s proven ability to virtually eliminate inappropriate shock will significantly improve my patients’ confidence and quality of life.”

With the introduction of the Protecta portfolio, patients with an arrhythmia can now continue to live an active life without the worry of their heart condition. To learn more about implantable cardiac devices and the conditions they treat, visit: www.medtronic.com.

1 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2006 Update.

2 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures. 2006.

3 CIA. The World Fact Book – Rank Order – HIV/AIDS – deaths. Available at www.cia.gov.

4 Kadish A, Dyer A, Daubert JP, et al., for the Defibrillators in Non-Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Treatment Evaluation (DEFINITE) Investigators. Prophylactic defibrillator implantation in patients with nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. N Engl J Med. May 20, 2004;350(21):2151-2158.

5 Daubert JP, Zareba W, Cannom DS, et al., for the MADIT II Investigators. Inappropriate implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shocks in MADIT II: frequency, mechanisms, predictors, and survival impact. J Am Coll Cardiol. April 8, 2008;51(14):1357-1365.

6 Poole JE, Johnson GW, Hellkamp AS, et al. Prognostic importance of defibrillator shocks in patients with heart failure. N Engl J Med. September 4, 2008;359(10):1009-1017.

7 Mitka M. New study supports lifesaving benefits of implantable defibrillation devices. JAMA. July 8, 2009;302(2):134-135.