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‘Cardiac Stimulator’, Glamorgan, Wales, 1956-1966

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This ‘Cardiac Stimulator’ stimulates the heart to produce a normal rhythm. It is used after heart failure or irregularity caused by an attack of Stokes Adams Disease. An attack involves a temporary stop of the heartbeat. Unconsciousness follows because the brain is starved of oxygen. It can result in full cardiac arrest, particularly during surgical operations involving cardiac depressant drugs. These decrease heart rate to perform heart surgery. The machine operates off both batteries and mains electricity. It was made by Firth Cleveland Limited in Wales. The manufacturer suggests the machine should be always at hand in the operating theatre. In the event of a ‘ventricular standstill’, the heart must be started within three to five minutes to avoid brain damage.

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Glossary: cardiology

The study of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels.

Glossary: cardiac pacemaker

Refers to the cells which emit impulses that control the contractions of the heart, regulating its beat. Can also refer to devices used to create these impulses artificially, if the heart’s ability to do so has been damaged.