Two months ago, Medtronic, the maker of electronic heart defibrillators, notified physicians and a quarter million patients that its products contained a potentially fatal defect. The Medtronic product is designed to regulate patients with irregular heart beats by delivering electric impulses to the heart. When the product becomes defective, it either fails to deliver these necessary impulses or worse; it could deliver painful and unnecessary electric shocks. Those with faulty Medtronic devices have had them replaced with an older, more stable version of the product. One group that is particularly at risk for the product failure is those patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. However, there are substantial risks for all patients having this replacement surgery.
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