St. Jude warns of battery defect in some heart devices

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Medical device maker St. Jude Medical Inc. is warning doctors and patients about a rare battery defect in some of its implantable heart devices that can cause them to fail much earlier than expected.

The company said Tuesday the batteries should be replaced immediately after the device emits an electronic, vibrating alert. Normally patients have up to three months to have batteries replaced. But the company says a small subset of its heart-shocking defibrillators can fail within 24 hours of the alert. The devices are used to treat dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

The problem is caused by buildup of deposits around lithium batteries. St. Jude says it fixed the issue in May 2015 and removed all affected devices from distribution and hospital inventories.

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