In Gipuzkoa it has been found that approximately 1000 people die each year due to sudden deaths. And these were people who were leading normal lives, with the first sign of cardiovascular disease very often being their last.
In most of these cases symptoms arrive unexpectedly. However there are people who are at a higher risk from sudden death than others. These include people who have suffered previous heart attacks or other cardiac complaints. Sudden death usually has a cardiovascular cause. A change in the cardiac rhythm can cause a ventricular fibrillation of the heart. This involves an abnormal increase in heartbeats that can even reach 400 beats a minute. At that point the heart ceases to stop pumping blood.
If an electrical discharge is administered with a defibrillator in those crucial two to ten minutes the chances of survival can go even up to 100%. Today persons who are at high risk have IADs implanted in them. Many public locations are now installed with user-friendly defibrillators. Two centers where IADs implants are carried out are Policlínica Guipúzcoa and the Hospital Donostia.
These implants are connected to the heart by some wires as well as to a central unit placed under the skin. Each IAD implant is programmed to store all the arrhythmias and electrical discharges that that particular patient undergoes. Every year about 70 internal automatic defibrillators are implanted in Gipuzkoa - with remarkable results.
Each IAD controls the heart of the patient and in a crisis is automatically activated. It acts within 8 seconds and the patient recovers his heartbeat blissfully unaware of the crisis that was averted. A minor electrical discharge may be experienced.
Records show that after 4 years of these implants the number of those who have escaped deaths icy grip is the same as the number of IAD implants.
Advances in science in the last few years has led to the development of new type of defibrillators that can be placed externally onto the skin of the person. This has proved useful especially to patients in transit and has the advantage of being fitted without any surgery.