Doylestown Health electrophysiologists now offer patients needing a pacemaker an innovative option with the most advanced technology that is one-tenth the size of a traditional device.
A team of electrophysiologists recently implanted the leadless pacemaker in a man in his mid-70s with a slow heartbeat who wanted to maintain his active lifestyle. It was the first leadless pacemaker implanted at Doylestown Health.
"We are excited that Doylestown Health continues to offer groundbreaking technology designed to make patient’s lives better," said electrophysiologist Robert Sangrigoli, MD. "In the field of cardiac pacing, we can now offer something very small that we know can make a big impact on patient's lives."
Pacemakers, including the new leadless pacemaker, are designed to treat slow heart rates (bradycardia). Common symptoms of slow heart rates include fatigue or feeling tired, dizziness and in some cases, passing out.
Traditional pacemakers are surgically implanted devices that generate electrical impulses to treat irregular heartbeat. The device is implanted in a pocket of tissue under the skin near the collarbone. The leads (wires) run from the pacemaker through a vein into the heart's right ventricle. The leads deliver electric pulses from the generator to the right ventricle to help maintain a normal heart rate.
While the new Medtronic Micra™ leadless pacemaker works like other pacemakers to regulate heart rate, the self-contained, inch-long device is implanted directly into the patient’s heart. Weighing less than a penny, the leadless pacemaker consists of a capsule that is attached to the heart muscle in a minimally invasive procedure using a catheter guided up from a vein in the groin to the heart.
"This capsule is lead and generator all in one. There is no pacemaker visible from outside the body," said Doylestown Health electrophysiologist John Harding, MD. "It's the pacemaker you can't see."
Medtronic Micra™ Animation
The patient who received the Micra device at Doylestown Health was enjoying an active life balancing work and golf until his recent issues with slow heart rate. With a traditional pacemaker, there is concern for infection and dislodging of the leads as patients move their arms and exercise. Leadless pacemakers are designed to minimize and eliminate these complications.
"The leadless pacemaker places no restrictions on this patient’s hobbies and exercise and he can certainly return to work and golf much sooner compared to the typical pacemaker systems," said Dr. Harding.
The leadless pacemaker is intended for patients who need a single-chamber pacemaker. Approved by the FDA in April 2016, the Micra pacemaker’s battery life is about 12 years, similar to a traditional device. Unlike traditional systems, the leadless pacemaker does not have to be replaced when the battery runs out.
"It is so small that replacement devices can be placed next to the original device," said Dr. Sangrigoli.
The leadless pacemaker is not yet available everywhere, and represents a significant change in the treatment of slow heart rates.
"This is a rapidly emerging technology and we expect that over the next few years leadless pacemakers may be able to completely replace all (traditional) pacing systems, even when both the upper and lower chambers of the heart require pacing," added Dr. Sangrigoli.
Doylestown Health physicians have extensive experience treating irregular heartbeats. The AFib Center of the Heart Institute offers a complete range of treatments for the most common irregular heartbeat, Atrial Fibrillation, from medical management to complex convergent procedures. Doylestown Hospital is one of the top programs in the region in terms of success, safety and volumes performing procedures to treat irregular heartbeats.
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About Doylestown Health's Heart Institute
Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. The multidisciplinary team at the Heart Institute is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.
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