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London Hospital sees pacemakers pass half million mark

The 500,000th pacemaker operation has been performed at the same London hospital which carried out the first procedure more than 50 years ago.

Karl Sidhu, 52, from Camberley in Surrey, was fitted with his pacemaker at St George’s Hospital in south west London. The first one was fitted in 1958.

The pacemaker, which will prevent a life-threatening abnormality in his heart and resynchronise its muscle function following a series of heart attacks, weighs 68g and has just three connecting wires.

The first pacemaker however, was the size of a pram wheel.

Modern pacemakers last seven years or more without a battery change and can be monitored remotely via the internet.

Dr David Ward, senior consultant cardiologist and electro-physiologist at St George’s, said: ‘Implanting pacemakers has become almost routine in UK, but there is nothing routine about it for the patients.

‘Mr Sidhu represents one of the tens of thousands of people in Britain who have had their lives improved thanks to a pacemaker and this milestone should be celebrated.’

However, experts warn that despite the UK being the first to use the technology, it has now “fallen behind other European countries” in the use of the devices.

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