Since the 1950’s, pacemakers have been changing the lives of individuals with abnormal heart rhythms. Now, Jefferson Regional is offering the world’s smallest pacemaker – smaller than a vitamin, and with no metal leads – with fewer complications and increased quality of life for patients.
Ayman Alshami, M.D. of Jefferson Regional Cardiology Associates is now utilizing the Micra AV, a tiny pacemaker that is one-tenth the size of traditional pacemakers and has the most advanced pacing technology available. It can be used in patients with several types of atrioventricular (AV) block, a condition that impairs the electrical signals between the chambers of the heart.
Historically, these patients would be treated with dual-chamber pacemakers which are inserted in the upper chest, under the skin below the collar bone, and connected to the heart using thin wires called “leads”. The new device, Alshami says, is a game-changer.
“First off, there’s no incision. We insert it through the femoral artery so it only takes a tiny cut and no stitches. We connect it to the heart muscle using the very small tines on the device itself. This reduces the risk of infection and any complications. Secondly,” he continues, “patients do not have to remain still immediately after the procedure or limit their activities. With the original pacemakers, patients could not raise their arm above shoulder height or lift much weight for several weeks. And the battery lasts for 12 to 14 years. They’re so small, that if a battery should run out, we would just insert a second device next to the first.”
Pacemakers can restore the heart’s normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by coordinating the electrical activity of the atria and ventricles. “Chronic atrial fibrillation, for example, will slow the heart rate and cause lightheadedness and even fainting,” Alshami explains. “There are medications for fast heart rate, but a pacemaker is required to deal with a slow heart rate. The results with this new device are very impressive. It’s less invasive, and patients will benefit greatly from being able to have the procedure done without leaving town.”
Dr. Alshami is in practice at Jefferson Regional Cardiology Associates, in the Jefferson Professional Center II.