Pacemaker sends SMS to warn of health problems.
Dutch university medical centre has carried out the first patient implant of a pacemaker system that sends out SMS messages or faxes if it detects heart irregularities, and can also upload heart monitoring data to the internet.
The Philos II DR-T Dual-Chamber Pacemaker with Home Monitoring manufactured by Biotronik, can be configured to send faxes, e-mails or text messages to doctors or carers if it detects problems such as arrhythmia.
The wireless device used to send the data, called the CardioMessenger, resembles a one-button mobile phone and is carried separately by the patient.
When the doctor treating the patient receives a communication from the handset, s/he can go online to securely review the data, and from there, decide whether any problems are serious enough to warrant treatment.
According to the VU Medisch Centrum (VUmc), the university medical centre that pioneered the operation, the operation was recognised by experts as a world first. They add that in the long run, they expect technology to be able to detect any heart problems indicated by the data, and that doctors will need to check up with their patients less and less until this eventually become "superfluous".
The disadvantages of the system include a short battery life of 24 hours on the handset, as well as all the others associated with regular mobile phones. The CardioMessenger must be kept at least eight inches from the pacemaker at all times. Biotronik also point out that the system needs to be turned off in planes and hospitals, and is not suitable for in areas with no mobile phone coverage.
Somehow the phrase "can you hear me now?" carries a little more significance.