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Tony Rickards was one of the most skilled cardiologists of his generation, combining major intellectual and technical ability with great manual dexterity, making it possible for him to contribute to many aspects of the treatment of heart disease.
In the early 1980s he was responsible for one of the relatively few major advances in the technology of pacemakers since their introduction in the late 1950s, the introduction of the physiologically adaptive pacemaker. The first unit harnessing this principle was implanted in 1982 and spawned the concept that is part of nearly all pacemakers implanted today. The abstract from his classic manuscript describing this concept, published in this journal in 1981, is reprinted below.
The original idea for the pacemaker came to him while flying back from a cardiology conference in the USA. Back in England a prototype was developed but no opportunity to use it arose until an unfortunate patient came into his care at the National Heart Hospital. This man was resuscitated a number of times during the course of the night and it became clear that without some dramatic intervention he could not survive. So the prototype pacemaker was inserted at seven o’clock in the morning. Six weeks later the man was back at work.
Tony’s latest development was a mobile phone with which a patient could record his ECG when a problem occurred, and transmit it to a centre for a diagnosis and advice, all in a matter of seconds. It sounds like something out of Star Trek but it is in fact already in use.
Tony Rickards, known as Pip to his family and close friends, was the eldest of six children of Tony and Eileen Rickards. His father was a pathologist in Lancaster. He was educated at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire where he gained three …