St. Jude Medical issues warning on heart device after 2 patient deaths

Saint Paul, Minn.-based Saint Jude Medical issued a warning this week about issues with premature battery depletion in some of its implanted heart devices. So far, the issue has been linked to two deaths, reports Reuters.

According to an advisory letter sent to physicians Monday, the lithium batteries used to power St. Jude's devices can die prematurely, hindering implanted cardioverter defribrillators' ability to deliver electricity to the heart when needed. St. Jude has initiated a recall of the devices, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

"There have been two deaths that have been associated with the loss of defibrillation therapy as a result of premature battery depletion," Jeff Fecho, St. Jude's vice president of quality control, wrote in the letter.

While the risk of premature battery depletion is rare, the FDA encourages patients with the implanted devices to monitor their battery levels at home with a special device. If they encounter a low-battery alert, they should seek medical attention immediately, as the defibrillator device must be replaced by a physician.

St. Jude instructed physicians against switching out implanted devices operating normally to avoid potential complications.

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