Pacemakers Go Digital

Doctors can gather data and program them faster

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TUESDAY, Sept. 30, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The world's first line of fully digital pacemakers has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Vitatron C-series features Digital Signal Processing (DSP), a technology similar to that found in digital cameras, cell phones and CD players, according to the manufacturer, Medtronic, Inc. In digital pacemakers, DSP allows doctors to monitor a patient's heart rhythm and adjust data settings almost instantaneously -- much faster than their older analog counterparts.

Pacemakers are designed for people whose hearts beat too slowly to support the needs of their circulatory systems. The condition, called bradycardia, affects more than 250,000 Americans annually with symptoms including dizzy spells, blackouts and fatigue, Medtronic says.

Medtronic's digital products were introduced in Europe in May.

Here is the company press release announcing the approval. To learn more about pacemakers, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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