NY patient gets wireless pacemaker, but is it a U.S. first?

Surgeons at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, NY supposedly performed the first U.S. implantation of a pacemaker linked to a wireless home monitoring system, allowing the patient's physician to check her condition before she comes in for a follow-up visit. "If there is anything abnormal, and we have a very intricate system set up, [the system] will literally call the physician responsible at two in the morning if need be," Dr. Steven Greenberg, director of the Arrhythmia and Pacemaker Center at St. Francis, told the Reuters news agency. Greenberg also said that future pacemakers could check not only for arrhythmia, but for heart failure and high blood pressure as well by adding additional monitoring functions.

Reuters reports this week that Carol Kasyjanski, 61, last month received a St. Jude Medical wireless pacemaker, not long after the product won FDA approval. The story says Kasyjanski is the first in the U.S. to have a wireless pacemaker, but we're not so sure. Health IT consultant and blogger Denise Silber, an American living in Paris, reports that Biotronik and Medtronic "have produced wireless pacemakers and defibrillators for several years." Silber co-authored a white paper earlier this year that included discussion of this technology. We couldn't find evidence of any Biotronik wireless pacemaker surgeries in the U.S. , but we did find older references to wireless Medtronic pacemakers in use in this country.

For further information about wireless pacemakers and whether the New York case was indeed a first:
- read the Reuters piece
- check out Silber's blog post
- if you can read French, check this post, which includes a link to Silber's white paper
- see this Softpedia entry from March about how Medtronic wireless pacemakers could be hacked