- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Medical device maker Medtronic Inc. says 13 patients have likely died as a result of problems with its heart device wires which were first disclosed in 2007.

The Minneapolis-based company pulled its Sprint Fidelis defibrillator leads off the market in October 2007 after identifying five patient deaths that may have been caused by the cracked wires.

In a letter sent to physicians Friday, Medtronic raised the number of estimated deaths to 13. The company notes that four deaths occurred when physicians tried to extract the wires. Medtronic has recommended patients leave the devices in because the risk of surgery may outweigh the risk of a device malfunction.

Medtronic based the new figure on analysis by a panel of outside physicians.

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