New cardiac system helps Heart Centre keep pace

Oxford Heart Centre is a regional centre of excellence, with a wide range of surgical and medical services available.

Many of our cardiac patients benefit from the use of a temporary external pacemaker, which helps to regulate the rate (pace) of the heart.

Pacing systems are used for patients having heart surgery. During the operation electrical wires are attached from the heart to outside the chest. After surgery these wires are attached to the pacing box and the patient's heart rate (pace) can then be boosted or calmed whilst the patient is in recovery.

Historically the Heart Centre had a mixture of five different systems - which meant staff had to be trained across all the varying equipment types.

The cardiac team wanted to have higher spec equipment that would be more responsive and, if required, could pace the heart faster. They also felt it would be very beneficial to use only one unified system to ensure consistency and aid staff training.

After careful research, Oxford Hospitals Charity offered funding for 25 dual chamber external pacemakers for use across Oxford Heart Centre.

Caroline White, Lead Nurse at the Cardiac and Thoracic Critical Care Unit, said:

"We are absolutely delighted with these new pacing boxes. They are very intuitive, so staff understand them almost immediately, and we have greater confidence having only one unified system, so staff can practise confidently and competently.

"Obviously this is much better for our patients. I would like to share the very great thanks of the whole cardiac team to all those who have helped to fund this equipment."

This new system offers advanced functionality - allowing settings to be changed quickly and safely, to ensure the best course of action for heart patients.

This can lead to improved treatment and potentially a shorter stay in hospital, allowing patients to get home to their loved ones more quickly.

The new pacing system is also easy to understand and more user-friendly, which makes it much more straightforward to teach to all clinical staff.

The Cardiac and Thoracic Critical Care Unit admits over 1,500 patients a year, and it is expected that 70 percent of these critically ill patients will benefit from the advanced treatment options of the new pacing system.

In addition around 50 patients a year with profound slowing of the heart rate - due either to medication complications or ageing of the heart's conduction system - will benefit from the pacing box as temporary emergency support.