Medtronic is halting sales of a wire that connects defibrillators implanted in the chests of cardiac patients to their hearts. The wires have been shown to fracture and deliver an accidental jolt to the heart, which can be uncomfortable and may have played a role in five deaths. An estimated 235,000 people worldwide have defibrillators with the lead in question, the Sprint Fidelis line.
The risk of malfunction is low, says a Medtronic doc, but "we're being super-cautious and conservative about this." Medtronic is not recommending that patients already wearing the wires have them replaced, because the operation would likely be more risky than the danger from the part itself. VP Dick Cheney has a Medtronic device, but his predates the introduction of the dodgy wires.