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5 Lakh Pacemakers Recalled Due to Risk of Hackers Harming Patients

Half a million pacemakers have been recalled by US authorities due to fears that lax security could lead to hacking.

Updated
Health News
2 min read
5 Lakh Pacemakers Recalled Due to Risk of Hackers Harming Patients
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The Quint DAILY

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Almost half a million pacemakers have been recalled by the US Food and Drug Administration due to fears that lax cyber security could allow them to be hacked to run the batteries down or even alter the patient’s heartbeat, according to The Guardian.

Six types of pacemakers, all made by health tech firm Abbott and sold under the St Jude Medical brand, are affected by the recall.

These are all radio-controlled implantable cardiac pacemakers, typically fitted to patients with slow or irregular heartbeats or those recovering from heart failure.

The recall won’t involve removing the pacemaker, which would be an invasive and dangerous medical procedure. The manufacturer has issued a firmware update which will be applied by medical staff to patch the security holes.

In a statement to The Quint, Abbott India clarified that this is part of the planned updates they had started in 2007.

There have been no reports of unauthorized access to any patient’s implanted device, and according to an advisory issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, compromising the security of these devices would require a highly complex set of circumstances.
Abbott Spokesperson
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The patients using the recalled pacemakers will now have to approach a hospital who will administer the update in a procedure that lasts three minutes. Abbott is reaching out to physicians who’ve used these pacemakers.

We are communicating with physicians about these updates to our pacemakers as part of our ongoing commitment to continuously improve patient care in the face of a constantly evolving technology landscape.
Abbott Spokesperson

Around 20,000 patients in India get pacemakers installed every year. Pacemaker is a tiny device that is used for sending electrical impulse to heart muscles to induce artificial heart beat in patients with very slow heart rate.

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