The Medtronic Reveal LINQ device

Tiny wireless heart monitor implanted in Briton

A tiny wireless heart monitor has been implanted into a patient in Britain to give doctors round-the-clock access to his heart activity.

David Baldock, 68, had the injectable Medtronic Reveal LINQ device inserted into his chest at the Eastbourne District General Hospital. It is injected close to the heart in a procedure lasting between two and five minutes using local anaesthetic, meaning the patient does not have to undergo a full operation.

The device is primarily used to help pinpoint why a patient was suffering blackouts or an irregular heartbeat. Using WiFi technology, the mini-monitor tells cardiologists what their patient's heart is doing, leading to faster and more accurate diagnoses, experts said.

Retired locksmith Baldock, from Uckfield, said: "All I felt was quite a bit of pressure as they inserted the device in my chest, and that was it. It was very straightforward.

"It's a heart monitor so it just records the heartbeat and any irregularities, but it's working 24 hours a day. I'm quite used to hospitals after several accidents so I have built up a blind faith in them. I have never been let down, so I feel quite confident.

"It was less stressful than going to the dentist. And I now know that the doctors can see my heartbeat 24 hours a day, in case there are any problems."

Doctors would have traditionally implanted a loop recorder the size of a USB stick into a patient's chest to monitor their heart rate and if the patient experienced a blackout, they would then use a separate device to freeze the recording which could then be accessed by a consultant at a hospital.

The new monitor is said to offer the same benefits, but is a tenth of the size of the traditional loop recorder, making it more comfortable and less noticeable under the skin.

It communicates wirelessly to a receiver in the patient's house which, when the patient is nearby, automatically transmits any unusual heart activity via a wireless 3G signal, which is then sent to a secure system that can be accessed instantly by the heart team at the patient's hospital who can contact them if they need to see them.

The device is being used by two leading cardiologists, at the Eastbourne District General Hospital and the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Dr Nikhil Patel, who performed Baldock's procedure in Eastbourne, said the device meant they could pick up on any heart irregularities even if the patient remained unaware.

He told BBC Breakfast: "What's really important to a patient is that often their symptoms occur when they are not in hospital or they are doing something else, and we can't catch the traces.

"In this instance, we are going to be able to monitor the patient 24/7. If they have a problem, they can let us know, and also if there is a problem that they are not aware of, we can let them know."

Cardiologist Dr Nick Linker, of the James Cook Hospital, said: "From my perspective, it was a much simpler and quicker procedure and it was very easy to do. From a patient's point of view the device is much smaller, so it is more comfortable and you get a much better cosmetic result. And because it does everything the previous device did, it is a winner all round."

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