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My favorite poster at the Heart Rhythm Society Meeting in Denver, Colorado last week came from Dr. A. Kondur, MD et al, of the Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan and the University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, KS entitled "Implantable Cardiovertor Defibrillators Save Lives from Lightning Related Electrocution Too..."
They reported on a 75 year-old man who suffered a side flash injury from lightning while adjusting his radio antenna on a rainy night. A year prior he had received a biventricular implantable cardiac defibrillator for treatment of his congestive heart failure and a weakened heart muscle. It seems his scalp and right index finger were burned from the lighning strike and his heart went into ventricular fibrillation. Fortunately, defibrillators have voltage shunting circuitry (so people with such devices can have external defibrillation if necessary without fear of harming the device circuitry). Therefore, the device circuitry was not harmed by the high voltage lightning strike. The defibrillator successfully detected the abnormal heart rhythm (ventricular fibrillation) caused by the lightning and shocked his heart back to normal rhythm after the episode!
The best part of the poster, though, was the disclaimer:
"The authors do not advise implanting ICD prophylactically for lightning strikes."
You've got to love investigators with a sense of humor.