From Hockey Puck to Half Dollar

Originally Published MDDI February 2002NEWS & ANALYSIS In a lifetime, a person might wear out about 15 hairbrushes, 20 pairs of sneakers . . . and 26 cardiac pacemakers.

February 1, 2002

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From Hockey Puck to Half Dollar

Originally Published MDDI February 2002

NEWS & ANALYSIS

In a lifetime, a person might wear out about 15 hairbrushes, 20 pairs of sneakers . . . and 26 cardiac pacemakers.

For Arne Larsson, the first-ever human recipient of an implantable cardiac pacemaker, life became considerably more robust in 1958: the year a device about the size of a hockey puck was implanted in his chest at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Four decades and 26 pacemakers later, Arne died on December 28, 2001, at the ripe old age of 86.

Throughout the 43 years that followed his original and novel surgery, Larsson led a full and remarkable life. He attended numerous clinical meetings and was an ambassador for the cardiac pacing industry.

As Larsson grew older, the large, two-transistor pacemaker of the fifties evolved, in increments of decreasing size and increasing technical wizardry, into a sleek, half dollar–sized wonder with as many as half a million transistors.

Doctors now prescribe implantable pacemakers to more than 500,000 patients around the world annually, and nearly 100% of those devices are provided by three Minnesota-based companies: Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, and Guidant. These companies, like the millions of patients whose lives have have been saved by pacemaker technology, owe much to Arne Larsson's courage and faith on that fall day in 1958.

Copyright ©2002 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry

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