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Mon Health heart physicians implant world's smallest, leadless pacemaker

Posted Date: 9/18/2017
Physicians with the Mon Health Heart and Vascular Center became the first in North Central West Virginia to implant the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, the world's smallest pacemaker.

About the size of a vitamin capsule, the pacemaker is a tenth of the size of a traditional pacemaker and doesn't involve multiple lead wires to deliver a jolt of energy to the heart. Rather, it can be implanted right into the heart with a catheter.

"Conventional pacemakers are implanted just under the skin below the collarbone, and require electrodes to be inserted through a large vein into chambers of the heart," said John Lobban, MD, a cardiologist who specializes in irregular heart rhythms at Mon Health Heart and Vascular Center. "But the leadless pacemaker is implanted directly onto the heart's right ventricle chamber and uses prongs to generate heart-regulating electrical impulses."

The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is a big win for patients like 81-year-old Evangeline Cain of Elkins. She was the first patient to undergo the procedure.

"I can really tell a difference in how I feel with the pacemaker being in. I now feel the way I'm supposed to," Cain said. "The staff was excellent with me a I appreciated it because when you're that sick, you don't realize how good it is to receive that kind of care. I trusted Dr. Lobban. He talked me through the process of how the pacemaker worked and how it would be placed, which I appreciated."

The leadless pacemaker is ideal for patients with atrial fibrillation and bradycardia (slow heart rate) who require single-chamber ventricular pacing.

"The procedure to implant the small, leadless pacemaker is less invasive, reducing recovery time and the risk of complications compared to traditional devices," Dr. Lobban said. "The average expected recovery time is between 24 hours and two days."

The procedure could potentially benefit 30-40 Mon Health patients a year.

Patients with bradycardia or atrial fibrillation should talk with their cardiologist about the benefits and risks of a Micra pacemaker.
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