The miracles of medical technology have saved the lives of millions of people over the years, and perhaps none of these are as awe-inspiring as the devices that regulate heart activity. It is not uncommon any more for in-home caregivers in Valley Center to encounter seniors with pacemakers or defibrillators permanently implanted in their bodies, keeping their heart working normally. As the number of these devices increases, however, a new study shows that infection accompanies them too often.
The Infection Problem
Introducing a manmade object into the human body is always a tricky job, and doctors must make sure that the body is able to incorporate the device in question into its functioning. Another risk, though, is that the foreign object could be carrying disease-causing bacteria or debris that, once inside the body, could spread an infection. The most serious danger in this case is that the infection could affect the heart’s valve, causing it to stop working properly.
How To Combat Infections
Believe it or not, when infection occurs under these circumstances, it is usually easier to take the device back out of the body than to simply treat the problem with an antibiotic under the direction of nurses or in-home caregivers. Obviously, the costs related to these types of procedures are very high, not to mention the physical strain on patients. As in other areas, the best cure is prevention—doctors and nurses must take every precaution to ensure that heart devices are perfectly sterile when they are implanted.
Surprisingly, there is a high rate of infection among device recipients. During the fifteen-year period from 1993 to 2008, as the use of heart devices increased drastically, infections caused by the devices grew by more than double. Our hope is that results like this will prompt experts to find better ways to prevent this serious, life-threatening problem.