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On the road: a shocking tale.

There's no question that surgically implanted, battery-powered defibrillators can save the lives of people who suffer from a heart rhythm disorder, which can cause sudden cardiac arrest and death.

And many patients with the devices continue to drive a car, according to a report in the Oct. 6 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION.

So, what's wrong? Plenty, say Nancy J. Finch and her colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina in Chraleston. When the heart starts beating wildly, the device delivers a lifesaving electric shock. However, that same jolt can knock the patient out cold.

In a survey of 40 patients, the researchers discovered that 28 (70 percent) had resumed driving after getting their implant. (One patient drove himself home from the hospital after receiving the device.) Eleven of the 28 even identified themselves as the primary driver in their household. All implant patients had been told by doctors and nurses before and after the operation never to drive a car again, the authors note.
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Title Annotation:driving safety problems of heart defibrillator patients
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 9, 1993
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