A new type of defibrillator implanted under the skin can detect dangerously abnormal heart rhythms and deliver shocks to restore a normal heartbeat without wires touching the heart, according to research in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

The subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator includes a lead placed under the skin along the left side of the breast bone. Traditional implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) include electrical conducting wires inserted into blood vessels that touch the heart. ICDs can greatly reduce the risk of death in patients at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

“Defibrillation has repeatedly proven to be a great asset in prolonging the lives of cardiac patients, but there are still some risks to address,” said Martin C. Burke, D.O., senior author of the study and a professor of medicine and director of the Heart Rhythm Center at the University of Chicago. “This new system was developed over a dozen years to combine some of the best aspects of traditional implanted ICDs and external defibrillators.”

In the six-month study, the device surpassed FDA goals for safety and effectiveness. The new system has been available in Europe and New Zealand since 2009 and received FDA approval in the United States in 2012 but still needs long-term study. A comparison between a traditional ICD and the new type of debrillator is underway.

See full details in today’s new release.