I’ve been following this story for quite a while.
Doctors and the company are now trying to understand the scope of the problem, but experts say it is extremely distressing because the wires are particularly dangerous to remove and also may pose dangers if they are left in.
Luckily for me, my leads aren’t St. Jude’s and I only have a dual-lead pacer, not an ICD. Still, I count on my leads to do the job they are supposed to, so when I hear about issues with pacemaker leads, my ears really perk up. While a pacemaker is easily replaced every seven years or so, the leads are not. When a pacemaker is put in, the ends of the leads are embedded in the heart. It takes several weeks for the heart to seal over the ends of the leads with scar tissue, but once that has happened, the leads should be good to go for a long, long time. Removing defective leads is a big deal, and in fact, if leads need to be replaced, more often than not, the old leads are just left in place to avoid damage to the heart where they are embedded.